Scarlet fever, a condition often associated with the Victorian era, has recently seen a resurgence in the UK.
The number of patients in England struck a 50-year high in 2016 – when some 17,000 illnesses were reported – and continued to rise in the following years, government formations established in 2020.
The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) has recently monitored infection rates in northwest England.
This follows several attacks in schools in Lancashire and Greater Manchester, and health officers have advised parents to look for signs in their children.
Is scarlet fever severe?
While scarlet fever was among the top causes of demise in the 19th century, it is now typically a mild illness.
It affects primarily young children and can now be easily treated with antibiotics.
However, in rare cases, the virus can induce complications – ranging from ear diseases to pneumonia, meningitis, and rheumatic fever.
Is it infectious, and how does it spread?
According to the NHS, scarlet fever is “infectious and can easily spread to other people.”
It is driven by a bacteria called group A Streptococcus, commonly found in the nose and throat, and causes diseases such as impetigo and strep throat.
It usually carries two to five days for an individual exposed to the bacteria to become unwell with scarlet fever.
The virus is sent via airborne respiratory droplets, which can be extended by coughing and sneezing. However, people can also evolve infected through direct contact with an infected person’s mucus, saliva, or skin.
It can also be caught by sharing harmful towels, baths, clothes, or bed linen.
What are the symptoms?
The illness typically begins with flu-like symptoms, including an increased temperature, headache, sore throat, flushed cheeks, and swollen neck glands.
Early in the illness, the virus can cause a whitish coating on the tongue, which eventually peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen, and wrapped in bumps – also understood as “strawberry tongue.”
Some 12 to 48 hours behind the initial scarlet rage symptoms, a characteristic pinkish rash usually occurs on the body.
According to the NHS, a scarlet fever inflammation looks like small, raised bumps, making the patient’s skin scratchy like sandpaper. The rash starts on the trunk and stomach before spreading.
How do you dine it and stop it from spreading?
While most cases of scarlet rage alleviate after about a week without treatment, a class of antibiotics is advised to speed up recovery and decrease the risk of difficulties, according to NHS Scotland.
The fever typically enhances within 24 hours of creating antibiotics – usually penicillin or amoxicillin tablets – with the other symptoms fading within a few days.
You can alleviate some of the symptoms of scarlet fever by sipping cool fluids, taking painkillers such as paracetamol to lower a high temperature, and using calamine lotion or antihistamine pills to ease itching, the NHS website says.
A person infected with scarlet rage can spread the illness up to six days before symptoms. While people generally remain infectious until 24 hours behind a first dose of antibiotics, those who do not take them usually remain contagious for two to three weeks behind the onset of symptoms.
To limit the space of scarlet fever, people should practice good hygiene by washing hands with warm water and soap, surrounding the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and not transferring drinking glasses or utensils.
Following one of the current outbreaks, Greater Manchester’s lead manager of public health Professor Kate Ardern told the Manchester Evening News: “We must try and break the speed of transmission of scarlet fever.
“It says like a very old-fashioned condition, which it is, but it’s back on the pitch again, and we need to try and contain it.”
What is scarlet rage, and is it contagious? Symptoms to watch out for after school outbreak Source: What is scarlet fever, and is it transferable? Symptoms to watch out for behind schools outbreak