A message from Wiltshire Council:
As you may know, there has been a recent national increase in notifications of scarlet fever to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), above seasonal expected levels.
During the winter months, it is not uncommon for this type of infection to circulate throughout nurseries and pre-schools, and while we are seeing more poorly children this year than we would normally, parents should be reassured that only a small number of cases become very serious.
Scarlet fever is a common childhood infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A Streptococcus (GAS). GAS is a common bacteria. Lots of us carry it in our throats and on our skin and it doesn’t always result in illness. However, GAS can cause a number of infections, some mild and some more serious. GAS causes infections in the skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract. It’s responsible for infections such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, scarlet fever, impetigo and cellulitis among others.
Scarlet fever is not usually serious, but should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications (such as pneumonia) and spread to others. A course of antibiotics, along with plenty of rest and fluid intake, will help most children to feel better in just a few days.
The early symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12 to 48 hours, the characteristic red, pinhead rash develops, typically first appearing on the chest and stomach, then rapidly spreading to other parts of the body, and giving the skin a sandpaper-like texture. The scarlet rash may be harder to spot on darker skin, although the ‘sandpaper’ feel should be present. Patients typically have flushed cheeks and will be pale around the mouth. This may be accompanied by a bright red ‘strawberry’ tongue. If you think you, or your child, might have scarlet fever: please contact your GP or NHS 111 as soon as possible. Please make sure that you or your child take the full course of any antibiotics prescribed.
Although you or your child will feel better soon after starting the course of antibiotics, you must complete the course to ensure that you do not carry the bacteria in your throat. After you have recovered stay at home, away from nursery, school or work for at least 24 hours after starting the antibiotic treatment, to avoid spreading the infection.