Huge spike in scarlet fever cases

By Chris Smith Friday 11 April 2014 Updated: 11/04 09:38

THERE has a been a huge spike in the cases of scarlet fever.

Figures published by Public Health England (PHE) show there have been 24 confirmed cases of the once life-threatening bacterial illness in Worcestershire since January - more than double the ten in the first three months of last year.

Five of those cases occurred in Redditch, whereas there was just one in the borough compared with the same period last year.

There have been seven cases reported in Worcester, six in Wychavon and three in Bromsgrove.

A significant rise has been seen across the whole West Midlands region with 255 in the first three months of the year compared to just 98 in the first three months of 2013.

Nationally there have been 4,157 cases so far this year - more than double the normal average for the season but it is not being considered an epidemic or even an outbreak by health chiefs.

The last season to have this level of cases was 1989 to 1990 when 4,042 notifications were received.

Scarlet fever was once a very dangerous infection that was particularly lethal for children during the 19th century, but today is rare and although there is no vaccince it can be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms include a high temperature and a red rash, sore throat, headache, swollen neck glands, peeling skin on fingertips and toes and a white coating on the tongue.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said this season’s increase was part of a cycle of increases and decreases over a period several years.

She said cases were more common in children although adults can also develop scarlet fever, and symptoms usually cleared up after a week.

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