Five thousand cases and rising

Cases of scarlet fever are continuing to rise with 883 new cases being reported in the last week of March – the highest weekly total since records began.

Public Health England has shared figures recording more than 5,000 new cases of scarlet fever since the season began in September. This compares to an average of 1,650 reported cases for the same period in the previous 10 years.

Scarlet fever is an infectious disease caused by group A streptococcus bacterium. The first symptoms often include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Between 12 and 48 hours after this, a characteristic rash develops. Although it’s more common in children, adults are also susceptible and symptoms usually clear up after a week following a course of antibiotics.

Public Health England is recommending that that people with scarlet fever symptoms see their GP. Once children or adults are diagnosed with scarlet fever they are strongly advised to stay at home until at least 24-hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid passing on the infection. However, Trust clinicians should be aware of the outbreak in case any patients present with relevant symptoms.

Further information is available on the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website; the clinical knowledge summary on scarlet fever contains further details on presentation and advised treatment. It should be noted that extra care should be taken with high risk patients when considering conveyance to hospital.

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