Advice if you’re concerned about scarlet fever

Scarlet Fever

If you are worried or concerned about Scarlet Fever, Dr. Chris Kenny, Director of Public Health has this information and advice.

There has been a recent national increase in notifications of scarlet fever to Public Health England. This is currently above seasonally expected levels. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the signs and symptoms and the recommended actions for you to take including notifying any outbreaks promptly to Public Health England (telephone number provided below)

Signs and symptoms of scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is a common childhood infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A streptococcus (GAS). The symptoms are non-specific in early illness and may include sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12 to 48 hours the characteristic red, generalised pinhead rash develops, typically first appearing on the chest and stomach, rapidly spreading to other parts of the body, giving the skin a sandpaper-like texture. On more darkly-pigmented skin, the scarlet rash may be harder to spot, although the ‘sandpaper’ feel should be present. Patients typically have flushed cheeks and pallor around the mouth. This may be accompanied by a ‘strawberry tongue’.

Complications of scarlet fever

Although scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, patients can develop complications such as an ear infection, throat abscess, pneumonia, sinusitis or meningitis in the early stages and acute glomerulonephritis and acute rheumatic fever at a later stage. Patients, or their parents, should keep an eye out for any symptoms which might suggest these complications and if concerned advised to seek medical help immediately.

Recommended actions 

  1. Please familiarise yourself with the attached information that likewise can be circulated to parents and carers. Please note further information is also available on: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Scarlet-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. For your information please access the Government Guidance PDF. This document clarifies the recommended period a child needs to be kept away from school or nursery (see page 5)
  3. If you have any further concerns about outbreaks or the spread of infection in your school or early years centre please contact Public England on 0344 225 45 24 ( press option 1).

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