Scarlet Fever Signs And Symptoms To Watch Out For Amid Outbreak

The United Kingdom has been recording a growing number of cases of the contagious scarlet fever. Officials confirmed nearly 500 people contracted the infection in England and Wales just in early December. 

Scarlet fever causes flu-like symptoms and a rash. A report, published in the British Medical Journal in 2018, predicted the Victorian-era infection is making its return after significantly declining in the past years. 

The Public Health England (PHE) said cases only reached 4,366 in the U.K. in 2013. However, the number of infected people climbed to 17,829 in 2016 and the figure is expected to continue to grow amid the ongoing outbreak in England and Wales. 

To date, there are 450 cases in England and 30 patients in Wales. Officials reported the highest numbers of scarlet fever infections in Cumbria, Yorkshire, London, Derbyshire, Buckinghamshire and the South East of England, the Daily Express reported

Scarlet Fever Symptoms

People develop scarlet fever due to the bacteria called group A Streptococcus. They can easily spread to other people by coughing or sneezing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Children and adults can develop the same symptoms of scarlet fever. The infection commonly starts with a fever and sore throat and in some cases lead to chills, vomiting, abdominal pain and a rash.

“The rash feels like sandpaper and starts on the chest and tummy,” according to NHS. “On lighter skin it looks pink or red. On darker skin it can be more difficult to see, but you can still feel it.”

Patients may also get a “strawberry tongue.” It causes a white coating on the tongue, which peals leaving it red and swollen.

Scarlet fever usually lasts for a week. Experts recommend that people consider meeting a doctor when symptoms remain for weeks.

Antibiotics have been proven as an effective treatment for scarlet fever. Doctors may provide either penicillin or amoxicillin. 

“Make sure your child washes their hands regularly and encourage good hygiene at all times,” the NHS said on preventing scarlet fever. “This includes washing their hands in the morning and at the end of the day, after going to the toilet and before and after eating food. Washing your hands is an effective way to get rid of bacteria.”

scarlet fever Patients with scarlet fever may also get a “strawberry tongue,” which causes a white coating on the tongue that peals, leaving it red and swollen. Pixabay