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Scarlet fever outbreak warning

Spike in the number of reported cases this year

Scarlet fever rash on chest and stomach

An itchy rash is one of the signs your child might have scarlet fever

Parents are being warned to stay on their guard against scarlet fever after a spike in the number of cases across England so far this year.

Recent years have seen a sharp and significant increase in the number of scarlet fever cases in the UK. 

Scarlet fever season occurs in the months following winter, with high points in March and April. It’s highly contagious, and mostly affects children between the ages of two and eight; 91% of this season’s reported cases so far have been children under 10.

Scarlet fever symptoms

The first signs of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache and high temperature (38.3°C or above). A pink, sandpapery, itchy rash develops a day or two later, often appearing first on the chest or stomach before spreading.

If you notice these symptoms, you should seek advice from your GP.

The quickest way to detect a fever in your child is with a good digital thermometer.

Head to our digital thermometer reviews to find out which ones parents rate.

Scarlet fever treatment

It’s important to be alert, but not alarmed: scarlet fever can be easily treated with antibiotics, and cases nowadays tend to be mild. 

Nevertheless, Public Health England cautions that the illness should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to minimise the risk of further complications and also of spreading the infection to other children.

Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever should stay at home for at least 24 hours after they’ve started the course of antibiotics.

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