Lizzy DeningHealth

Scarlet fever cases have risen dramatically

Lizzy DeningHealth
Scarlet fever cases have risen dramatically

It sounds like something that should have been wiped out in the last century, but, shockingly, scarlet fever has risen in the UK to a 'near-epidemic level' - the highest since the Sixties.

Since mid-September, at least 11,981 cases of the infection have been reported, according to health officials in England. But it may be that the increase is partly down to better awareness and reporting.

The bacterial infection tends to affect children under 10, and can lead to pneumonia or sepsis without antibiotic treatment. It was one of the main causes of death for children in the Victorian era.

What are the symptoms of scarlet fever?

  • A characteristic blotchy rash
  • Red face
  • White-coated tongue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Vomiting

Who can catch scarlet fever?

While the illness is most common in children under 10, anyone of any age could catch it. To be on the safe side, visit your GP.

How serious is scarlet fever?

While it can lead to complications, in itself scarlet fever isn't too serious. Dr Nick Phin, deputy director at Public Health England told the Daily Mail: "Scarlet fever is not usually a serious illness and can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications and spread to others."