Public health officials from Derbyshire County Council are warning parents to look out for the symptoms of scarlet fever in their children as the number of local cases increases.
More cases are usually reported between March and April each year but there has been a 77% increase in Derbyshire so far this year with 39 cases compared to 22 in 2014. The previous year’s increase was 22%.
To help prevent the spread of the disease, which most commonly occurs in children aged between two and eight, public health officers have published guidance about how to spot signs of infection and are advising parents to take children with suspected symptoms to their GP.
The county council’s Director of Public Health has also written to all Derbyshire nurseries and schools to remind headteachers of the signs, symptoms and actions to take in the event of an outbreak.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “We want to help prevent anyone catching the disease where it can be avoided and are urging parents with children who display symptoms to seek treatment as soon as possible.
“Increases in scarlet fever are normal at this time of year but the numbers of cases currently being reported in Derbyshire are above what is typical. This may reflect more awareness and improved diagnosis but the high number of cases are a concern.
“That’s why we’ve sent through information to local schools and nurseries to give parents the facts about signs to look out for and what they should do if they think their child has caught it.”
The first symptoms of scarlet fever often include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12 to 48 hours a fine red rash develops which feels like sandpaper to touch.
The rash usually appears on the chest and stomach before rapidly spreading to other parts of the body. On darker skin the rash can be harder to spot, although the skin will still feel like sandpaper.