‘Highly contagious’: Scarlet fever on the ‘rise’ following school outbreak – symptoms

Scarlet fever: Doctor details symptoms of bacterial infection

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A spate of scarlet fever infections have been reported in schools across the North West of England, with cases cropping up in Salford and Wigan, Greater Manchester. Scarlet fever is a contagious infection that mostly affects young children. Doctor Merav Kliner, Interim Regional Deputy Director – North West, from the UK Health Security Agency, said: “It’s not uncommon to see a rise in cases of scarlet fever at this time of year.

“We are continuing to monitor rates of infection across the North West.

“Scarlet fever is highly contagious but not usually serious and is easily treatable with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications and spread to others.

“It is important to take antibiotics, as instructed by your GP, to minimise the risk of complications.

“The UKHSA reminds parents to be aware of the symptoms of scarlet fever and to call their GP or NHS 111 for further advice or assessment if they think their child might have it.

“To limit the spread of scarlet fever it is important to practice good hygiene by washing hands with warm water and soap, not sharing drinking glasses or utensils, and covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.”

It comes on the heels of a primary school in Manchester sent a letter to parents to warn them of the virus spreading in classrooms.

Manchester Evening News reported the letter from Bowker Vale Primary School read: “Dear families, we have been informed that a small number of children at Bowker Vale have been diagnosed with confirmed scarlet fever.

“Although scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, it should be treated with antibiotics to minimise the risk of complications and reduce the spread to others.”

The letter from Bowker Vale Primary School followed “a number of confirmed cases” in schools and nurseries across Wigan last week.

Scarlet fever – what to look for

According to the NHS, the first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck).

“A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later. It looks looks like small, raised bumps and starts on the chest and tummy, then spreads. The rash makes your skin feel rough, like sandpaper,” explains the health body.

It adds: “A white coating also appears on the tongue. This peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps (called “strawberry tongue”).”

How is it treated?

The Mayo Clinic says: “If your child has scarlet fever, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. Make sure your child completes the full course of medication.

“Failure to follow the treatment guidelines may not completely eliminate the infection and will increase your child’s risk of developing complications.

According to the health body, you can take a number of steps to reduce your child’s discomfort and pain.

These include:

  • Treat fever and pain. Use ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Motrin, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to control the fever and minimise throat pain
  • Provide adequate fluids. Give your child plenty of water to keep the throat moist and prevent dehydration
  • Prepare a saltwater gargle. If your child is able to gargle water, give him or her salty water to gargle and then spit out. This may ease the throat pain
  • Humidify the air. Use a cool mist humidifier to eliminate dry air that may further irritate a sore throat
  • Offer lozenges. Children older than age 4 can suck on lozenges to relieve a sore throat
  • Provide comforting foods. Warm liquids such as soup and cold treats like ice pops can soothe a sore throat
  • Avoid irritants. Keep your home free from cigarette smoke and cleaning products that can irritate the throat.

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