Scarlet fever: Doctor urges parents to look out for these symptoms as infections surge

Scarlet fever cases have increased over the past three weeks and have also doubled since the start of 2018, according to new public health figures. 

During the week ending January 28 there were 735 cases in England and Wales which made it the biggest seven day outbreak since April 2017. 

A whopping 17,350 cases of scarlet fever have already been recorded this year, with the final amount set to be calculated next week. 

So what is scarlet fever, what are the symptoms to watch out for and what can you do to prevent it? Dr Steve Iley, Medical Director, Bupa UK has offered his advice.    

What are the symptoms of scarlet fever? 

Initial symptoms of scarlet fever usually start between one and four days after your child has been infected, says Dr Iley. 

He added: “A sore throat, a fever, headaches, chills and feeling sick are all symptoms.

“Then around 12–48 hours after the fever starts a skin rash will appear, first on your child’s neck and then their body. The rash will make your child’s skin feel rough like sandpaper and will consist of pimples that are small, raised and reddish in colour.

“Another symptom of scarlet fever is what’s called ‘strawberry tongue’. This is when your child’s tongue is at first white with red inflamed parts (white strawberry tongue). Then, after four to five days, it goes red and shiny (red strawberry tongue).”

What can you do to avoid getting scarlet fever? 

Dr Iley said: “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.”

Who are the high-risk groups? 

Scarlet fever mainly affects children under the age of 10, and in particular those between the ages of two and eight. 

Dr Iley explained: “It usually spreads from one infected individual to others through tiny droplets in the air. This means that spaces where children are in close contact, like classrooms and nurseries are places where the infection can spread easily.”

How will I know if I need to see a doctor? 

Dr Iley warns: “If you have a young child who’s poorly, be vigilant and look out for any of the above symptoms that could be linked to scarlet fever. If you think your child may have scarlet fever, contact your GP immediately for advice.”

Once you’ve had Scarlet fever, you’re unlikely to become infected again.

Aussie flu has also been causing havoc in the UK this winter. 

Aussie flu - the H3N2 strain of the influenza virus - is just one of the several strains circulating in the UK at the moment, and symptoms, described as more severe than normal flu, include an aching body, a dry chesty cough and a sudden fever.

But for those who are unfortunate enough to have got the virus, what’s the best way to get rid of it?