Parents on red alert over Scarlet fever

generic medical health examination stethoscope
generic medical health examination stethoscope

Ripley and Heanor parents are being warned to watch for symptoms of scarlet fever among their children after a health organisation has recorded an increase in cases of the infection.

Public Health England revealed there have been 134 cases of the condition reported to it in the East Midlands since the beginning of January compared with 56 in the same period last year.

A total of 40 notifications in Derbyshire have been recorded during the first eight weeks of 2014, compared with 28 over the same period in 2013.

Dr Philip Monk, consultant in communicable disease at Public Health England, said: “Doctors should be able to give advice on appropriate additional medication to relieve symptoms.

“Scarlet fever is spread from person to person either by breathing in airborne droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing. It is essential that people wash their hands regularly.”

Because the condition is extremely contagious, letters are being issued to parents by local councils and through children’s schools and nurseries.

Scarlet fever, sometimes called scarlatina, is a bacterial illness which causes a distinctive pink-red rash and it is most common in children between the ages of two and eight years.

It is caused by bacteria which affects the throat and causes the tongue to swell and redden and the cheeks to flush.

Symptoms of scarlet fever usually develop two to five days after infection, although patients will be contagious before showing signs of the illness.

Dr Monk added: “For the majority of cases of scarlet fever, a course of antibiotics will cure the illness and reduce the risk of complications. People with high temperatures should drink fluids and keep cool.”