Scarlet fever - the beginning of a new season

Tying surgical apron

Early indications for 2015 to 2016 suggest we may be entering a third season of high numbers of scarlet fever infections.

So far this season, 2,155 scarlet fever reports have been made across England since the second week of September.

Around 250 cases of scarlet fever are currently being notified each week across England, remaining similar to last year but higher than previous years. Levels of scarlet fever are typically low during the autumn and early winter, increasing over the next few months and reaching highest levels in March and April.

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 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.

Scarlet fever is mainly a childhood disease and is most common from two to eight-years-old. It was once a very dangerous infection, but has now become much less serious. There is currently no vaccine for scarlet fever.

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