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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Scarlet Fever in United Kindgom (England)

16 Feb 2015

Public Health England (PHE) has reported a high number of scarlet fever notifications in England, with 1265 cases reported in the first 6 weeks of 2015. During the week 2-9 February 2015, more than 300 cases were reported

Cases of scarlet fever are reported annually in England, with the high season being between March and April. An increase is expected around this time, however, the number of cases is higher than normal.

It is possible that the increase in cases may be due to heightened awareness and improved diagnosis and/or notification practices, however, the high number is a concern. During 2014, more than 14 000 cases of scarlet fever were notified in England, the highest total since the late 1960s.

(Via PHE Press Release - accessed 16/02/15)

Advice for Travellers

Scarlet fever is a fairly common bacterial childhood illness, mostly affecting those between 2-8 years-of-age. Before the use of antibiotics, it could be a serious infection.

It is highly infectious and is spread by close contact with an infected person. The bacteria are carried in the saliva and mucus in the nose and are spread by sneezing, coughing, or breathing out. It can also be transmitted from drinking glasses, plates or utensils used by an infected person. To reduce the risk of infection individuals should:

  • Avoid contact with a known infected person if possible.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Not share eating utensils with an infected person
  • Wash, or dispose of, handkerchiefs and tissues contaminated by an infected person carefully
  • Be aware that you can catch scarlet fever by inhaling airborne droplets if someone with the illness coughs or sneezes in the air near you.

Further general information on scarlet fever. (external weblink)