Twelve people in Croydon have contracted scarlet fever in the past three weeks as fears grow that numbers suffering from the contagious illness will rise into the summer months.
Health officials are urging residents to be on the watch for the contagious bacterial illness, which can be spread by breathing in the bacteria or from contact or sharing clothes, towels of baths. Around 80 per cent of scarlet fever cases are seen in children under the age of 10.
Scarlet fever is not usually a serious infection but complications can arise, particularly in those not treated promptly and there is no vaccine.
Dr Theresa Lamagni, Public Health England’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance told East London Lines: “We can expect to see increasing numbers of cases of Scarlet fever as the season progresses over the course of the winter and spring.”
Rachel Flowers, Croydon’s director of public health, said: “If a child has been diagnosed with scarlet fever, they should be kept away from nursery or school for at least 24 hours after starting treatment. Adults should observe the same precautions.”
“Scarlet fever is very contagious, so GPs, schools and nurseries should be aware of the current high levels of the illness and inform local health protection teams if they become aware of cases.”
Public Health England have reported 2155 cases of Scarlet fever since the second week of September 2015 and have said: “Around 250 cases of Scarlet fever are currently being reported each week across England.”
“Following the significant increase in scarlet fever cases over the last 2 years, early indications for 2015 to 2016 suggest we may be entering a third season of high numbers of infections”
Scarlet fever symptoms include:
- Develops normally after a sore throat or skin infection
- High temperature
- Flushed cheeks
- Swollen tongue
- 1-2 days later a pinkish rash appears (starts on the chest or stomach normally)
Symptoms usually appear two to five days after the infection has been contracted. The rash may feel like sandpaper and may be itchy.