Advertisement

Scarlet fever cases hit 50-year high in England

From BBC - November 27, 2017

Scarlet fever hit its highest level in England for 50 years, with more than 17,000 cases reported in 2016 - research in the Lancet shows.

The disease has been on the rise since 2014, but experts have so far failed to find a reason for the recent increase.

Doctors are urging the public to be aware of symptoms, which include a rosy rash, and seek help from their GP.

Data for 2017 suggests the rate may be falling, but experts remain cautious, saying it is "too early to tell".

The bacterial disease, though highly contagious, is not usually serious and can be treated with antibiotics.

It is most common among children under 10.

A joint investigation by public health authorities from across England and Wales found that the incidence of scarlet fever tripled between 2013 and 2014, rising from 4,700 cases to 15,637 cases.

In 2016, there were 19,206 reported cases, the highest level since 1967.

The majority of the outbreaks were in England.

"We are concerned - it's quite a dramatic rise," said Dr Theresa Lamagni, head of streptococcal surveillance at Public Health England, who led the study.

"We have always seen cases of scarlet fever - it's just the scale in the past has been much lower than the last few years."

'Like sandpaper'

Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria known as group A streptococcus, and it is spread through close contact with people carrying the organism - often in the throat - or through contact with objects and surfaces contaminated with the bacterium.

Symptoms include a sore throat, headache and fever, accompanied by a red rash that is rough to the touch (sometimes described as 'like sandpaper').

'Slight decrease'

Advertisement

Continue reading at BBC »