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Scarlet Fever in the United Kingdom

16 Apr 2014

Public Health England has recorded a steady increase in the number of scarlet fever notifications since Autumn 2013. Investigation into this unusual increase in cases is ongoing. The highest number of notifications in one week was recorded at the end of March 2014, with 883 reports. The total number of notifications this season stands at 5012.

Increases in scarlet fever have been seen across the United Kingdom, the worst affected area is the East Midlands followed by, Avon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Thames Valley, North East, Cumbria, Lancashire, South Midlands, Hertfordshire and Greater Manchester.

(Via Health Protection Report Vol 8, No 13 - accessed 15/04/14)

A possible outbreak of scarlet fever is being investigated in Scotland. The investigation follows reports of scarlet fever cases among groups of children attenting an outdoor adventure centre in Perthshire, central Scotland.

Health Protection Scotland is advising anyone who has attended the Dalguise adventure centre since Friday 28 March 2014, and has experienced, or is continuing to experience, symptoms including a pink-red rash to contact their GP who will be able to arrange appropriate antibiotic treatment.

(Via HPS Weekly Report - accessed 15/04/14)

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)