PARENTS, schools and GPs are being urged to be vigilant as scarlet fever hits Essex once again.
Fifty three cases of the illness have been reported in Essex and Anglia in the first six weeks of 2015, a Public Health England (PHE) statement revealed.
Nationally, the figure is 1,265 new cases across the country. While it’s not unusual for scarlet fever to rear its head at this time of year, the number of cases is higher than expected and is a cause for some concern, the PHE said.
However, the situation is not as bad as last year when there were 14,000 cases of scarlet fever reported in England throughout 2014, which was the highest level of the disease since the last 1960s.
Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: “As we enter into high season for scarlet fever, we ask GPs and other frontline medical staff to be mindful of the current high levels of scarlet fever activity when assessing patients.“
Prompt notification of cases to local health protection teams is critical to enable local monitoring and rapid response to outbreaks. Schools and nurseries should similarly be mindful of the current elevated levels of scarlet fever and promptly inform local health protection teams at an early stage if they become aware of cases, especially if more than one child is affected.”
The key symptoms of scarlet fever are:
First symptoms – Sore throat and fever, which may be accompanied by headache, nausea and vomiting
12-48 hours later – – A fine, pink rash appears which feels like sandpaper to touch, often starting on the chest or stomach. It can spread to the ears, neck and other parts of the body. The rash can be itchy.
Other symptoms may include: a flushed face and a red, swollen tongue.
If you think you, or anyone in your family, has scarlet fever, you should contact your GP straight away for a course of antibiotics. This cuts the risk of complications and most people recover in a week or so.
Symptoms of scarlet fever usually start around two to five days after the person has been infected.It is contagious before the symptoms appear.Scarlet fever is most common in children but adults can contract it too.
Once you know that you or your child has scarlet fever, you should stay at home for at least 24 hours after you’ve started taking antibiotics. For people in the same household, try to avoid spreading the disease by frequent hand washing, and making sure that you don’t share clothes, bedding, towel and cutlery with the infected person.