Scarlet Fever: Be vigilant for these signs of Scarlet Fever after UK outbreak
Cases of scarlet fever have reached a 50-year-high in England. The number of people catching scarlet fever in the Republic of Ireland is unknown.
There is a re-emergence of the highly infectious disease in England but in Ireland healthcare professionals do not have to report cases to the HSE National Surveillance Centre.
The number of cases in the UK reached a 50-year high last year, a seven-fold increase in five years. According to new research there were 620 outbreaks of scarlet fever in 2016, with more than 19,000 cases, mostly in schools and nurseries. The average age of a patient was four.
According to a report in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal, cases of scarlet fever have soared in England, baffling government scientists who admit they do not know why the Victorian-era disease has made a comeback.
The disease was fatal in childhood during the 1800s, but it has become less common and milder over the past century. However, the bacteria involved can still cause severe illnesses including pneumonia, sepsis and liver and kidney damage.
With this in mind we'd like to share with you what to look out for...
Symptoms include a sore throat, headache and fever accompanied by a pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper.
It generally takes one to four days after infection for the symptoms of scarlet fever to show. This is known as the incubation period.
The disease often starts with the sore throat or skin infection and fever. The rash appears 12 to 48 hours after the fever.
According to the HSE website:
"The first sign of the rash is red blotches, which turn into a fine pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper to touch and looks like sunburn.
It may start in one place but soon spreads to many other parts of the body, commonly the ears, neck, chest, elbows, inner thighs and groin.
The rash does not normally spread to the face but the cheeks become flushed and the area just around the mouth stays quite pale. The rash will blanche (turn white) if you press a glass on it.
The rash lasts for six days and then usually fades. It may itch and is usually accompanied by other symptoms (see below), although a rash may be the only symptom in milder cases (scarlatina)."
The disease is not usually serious, but anyone affected should see a GP promptly. More information can be found here