Parents warned about ‘highly infectious’ scarlet fever and chicken pox as cases rise


Parents have been warned as cases of scarlet fever and chicken pox are on the risk.

Health experts from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) explained that cases of both infections are up compared to last year.

Scarlet fever is caused by a bacterium called group A streptococcus and can cause complications with other skin conditions such as chicken pox when both illnesses are circulating.

Experts are urging parents to be vigilant and aware of the signs and symptoms of both infections.

Scarlet fever is most common in children but can still affect adults.

A total of 3,488 notifications of scarlet fever were reported between September 2021 and March 2022 in England compared to an average of 8,605 for this same period in the previous 5 years.

What are the symptoms of scarlet fever?

  • flu-like symptoms including high temperature
  • sore throat
  • swollen neck glands (large lump on the side of your neck)
  • rash
  • headache

The symptoms are the same for children and adults, although scarlet fever is less common in adults.



Signs of scarlet fever include flu-like symptoms such as a temperature, headache and sore throat.

scarlet fever rash

A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later.

The rash looks like small, raised bumps and often starts on the chest or tummy and then spreads.

It will also make the skin feel rough, much like sandpaper.

Treatment for scarlet fever

If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, people should contact their local GP or NHS 111.

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Early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important as it helps reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and the spread of the infection to others.

Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

Scarlet fever usually lasts for about a week.

Dominic Mellon, deputy director of health protection at UKHSA South West said: “It’s not uncommon to see a rise in cases of scarlet fever at this time of year and we are continuing to monitor rates of infection.

“Scarlet fever is highly contagious but not usually serious and is easily treatable with antibiotics.

“It is important to take antibiotics, if prescribed by a GP, to minimize the risk of complications and spread to others.

“We are reminding parents and carers to be aware of the symptoms of scarlet fever and to call their GP or NHS 111 for further advice or assessment if they think their child might have it.

“Symptoms to look out for include a fever, sore throat and a pinkish-red rash with sandpapery feel.

“To limit the spread of scarlet fever it is important to practice good hygiene by washing hands with warm water and soap, not sharing drinking glasses or utensils, and covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.”

For further information on scarlet fever go online here.

chickenpox

Chickenpox (varicella) is a highly infectious infection caused by the varicella zoster virus, and presents with a characteristic rash, with vesicles on the face, spreading down over the body to the arms and legs.

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Although generally mild in otherwise healthy children, it can be more severe in pregnant women and immunosuppressed individuals.

Children with chickenpox should remain at home until they are better and the rash has gone. Many common infections declined during lockdown and are now circulating at higher levels, and this includes chickenpox, which is also common in pre-school and nursery settings.

For further information on chickenpox visit go online here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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