PARENTS in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire are being advised to look out for symptoms of scarlet fever among their children, after a rapid increase in cases nationally.
Public Health England (PHE) has received increased reports of the disease and Dr Theresa Lamagni, Head of Streptococcal Infection Surveillance, says parents should be aware of the signs.
Dr Lamagni, said: “We are continuing to see increases in scarlet fever notifications across England.
“PHE urges people with symptoms of scarlet fever to consult their GP. Scarlet fever should be treated with antibiotics to reduce risk of complications.”
In the past month, 868 notifications have been received in England, compared to 591 for the equivalent period last year.
Bristol has been named a hot spot and the Gloucestershire area has one of the highest rates of infection.
Councillor Dorcas Binns, Gloucestershire cabinet member for Public Health and Communities, said: “We are encouraging anyone concerned about scarlet fever to follow Public Health England’s advice and see their family doctor in the first instance, who may prescribe antibiotics.
"It’s important that you or your child takes the full course of antibiotics and stays at home for at least 24 hours after starting treatment to avoid spreading infection.”
Around 90 per cent of scarlet fever cases occur in children under 10, and it is most common among children aged two to eight, particularly among four-year-olds. Adults can also catch the disease, but such cases are rarer.
• Sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting
• A characteristic fine red rash after 12-48 hours, on the chest and stomach, rapidly spreading to other areas. It feels like sandpaper to touch
• Fever over 38.3C or higher is common
• White coating on the tongue, which peels a few days later leaving the tongue looking red and swollen
• Swollen glands in the neck
• Feeling tired and unwell
• Flushed red face but pale around the mouth
• Peeling skin on fingertips, toes and groin, as the rash fades.
To protect yourself from getting the illness you should:
• Wash your hands often
• Not share eating utensils with an infected person
• Wash, or dispose of, handkerchiefs and tissues contaminated by an infected person
• Be aware that you can catch scarlet fever by inhaling airborne droplets.
Dr Mark Pietroni, Director of Public Health for South Gloucestershire, said: “It usually takes two to five days from infection before the first signs of symptoms appear. However, the incubation period may be as short as one day and as long as seven days.
“The average number of cases in South Gloucestershire is generally very low, however they have risen from an average of 4 cases per annum to 11 cases in 2014, which is considered as a significant increase.”
If you suspect that you or your child has scarlet fever:
• See your GP as soon as possible
• Take the full course of any antibiotics prescribed by your GP
• Stay at home, away from school or work for at least 24 hours after starting treatment, to avoid spreading the infection
For more information visit www.nhs.uk and search for scarlet fever.