Scarlet fever, a contagious infection which causes flu-like symptoms and a rash, appears to be making a comeback with a recorded 450 cases in England and 30 in Wales in the week ending December 1.
Figures released by Public Health England (PHE) have recorded a dramatic rise in the number of reported cases between 2013, when there were 4,366 cases of scarlet fever, and 2016 with 17,829 cases.
The British Medical Journal last year noted the return of the Victorian-era infection after years of decline.
The highest numbers of scarlet fever cases were recorded in Cumbria, Yorkshire, London, Derbyshire, Buckinghamshire and the South East of England.
The following number of cases were recorded in each area:
Cambridgeshire – 43
Derbyshire – 59
Devon – 23
Dorset – 1
East of England unitary authorities – 5
East Midlands unitary authorities- 7
East Sussex – 3
Essex – 10
Greater Manchester – 39
Hampshire – 13
Hertfordshire – 9
Kent – 10
Lancashire – 9
Leicstershire – 28
London – 54
Merseyside – 36
Norfolk – 7
Northamptonshire – 7
North East unitary authorities – 2
North West Unitary authorities – 16
North Yorkshire – 53
Nottinghamshire – 9
Outer London – 36
Oxfordshire – 6
Somerset – 4
South East – 53
South East Unitary authorities – 8
South West unitary authorities- 11
South Yorkshire – 12
Staffordshire – 9
Suffolk – 4
Surrey – 2
Tyne and Wear – 13
Wales – 30
Warwickshire – 1
West Midlands – 47
West Midlands unitary authorities- 1
West Sussex – 6
West Yorkshire – 24
Worcestershire – 5
Yorkshire and the Humber unitary authorities – 7
Symptoms of scarlet fever
The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, according to the NHS, including a high temperature of 38C or above, a sore throat and swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck).
A rash then appears a few days later.
The NHS says: “The rash feels like sandpaper and starts on the chest and tummy.
“On lighter skin it looks pink or red. On darker skin it can be more difficult to see, but you can still feel it.”
The NHS further advises to see a GP if you or your child has scarlet fever symptoms, do not get better in a week, are ill again weeks after scarlet fever has cleared up and are feeling unwell and have been in contact with someone who has scarlet fever.
Scarlet fever tends to last around a week and a person can be infectious up to seven days before symptoms start until 24 hours after taking the first antibiotic tablets.
People who don’t take antibiotics can be infectious for two to three weeks after symptoms start.
How can you prevent scarlet fever spreading?
If your child has scarlet fever you shouldn’t let them go into school or nursery for at least 24 hours after they start taking antibiotics, advises Bupa.
The health organisation adds: “Make sure your child washes their hands regularly and encourage good hygiene at all times. This includes washing their hands in the morning and at the end of the day, after going to the toilet and before and after eating food. Washing your hands is an effective way to get rid of bacteria.”