Doctors are urging mums and dads across Britain to be vigilant as cases of scarlet fever are rising in parts of the UK. Public Health England experts said they were aware of the recent rises and have warned parents across the country to look out for vital signs.
According to research published in medical journal the Lancet, there were 19,000 cases reported in 2016. This is the highest level since 1967 and represents a huge rise in just five years.
Parents are being urged to be aware of the symptoms and contact their GP immediately if they are worried their child is infected. Most cases occur in children under 10 although individuals of any age are at risk, reports the Daily Mirror .
“We are concerned – it’s quite a dramatic rise,” said Dr Theresa Lamagni, head of streptococcal surveillance at Public Health England, who led the study.
“We’ve always seen cases of scarlet fever – it’s just the scale in the past has been much lower than the last few years.”She said the underlying cause of the resurgence is not known although several countries in East Asia have also reported an escalation including Vietnam, China, South Korea and Hong Kong.
She added: “Whilst there is no clear connection between the situation in the UK and East Asia, a link cannot be excluded without better understanding of the drivers behind these changes.
“The hunt for further explanations for the rise in scarlet fever goes on.”#
here is no vaccine against the disease and all cases must be reported by doctors to the local health authority. Dr Lamagni described the soaring number of cases of scarlet fever as “baffling”, adding that no underlying causes had been identified.
Molecular genetic testing has ruled out a newly emerged strain of the infection, nor was there any suggestion that the disease had become resistant to the penicillin normally used to treat it. She stressed that cases of the disease are “not any more serious than previously – it’s just a question of scale”.
What is scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that causes a distinctive pink-red rash. The illness is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, also known as group A streptococcus, which are found on the skin and in the throat.