Parents urged to be viligant for signs of HIGHLY contagious illness following MAJOR outbreak

9th Apr 18 | News

Public health experts are urging parents to be vigilant for signs of Scarlet Fever following the UK's worst outbreak of the highly-infectious illness in over 40 years.

According to reports from Public Health England, there were more than 15,500 cases reported in the first three months of this year alone – this is twice as many as last year.

Scarlet fever is an infection that causes a blotchy, pink-red rash. It’s most common in young children but can affect people of any age.

It often starts with a sore throat, headache and fever, and a rash appears 12-48 hours later. This starts as red blotches but turns into a pinkish-red rash that feels like sandpaper.

The rash spreads to other areas, commonly the ears, neck, elbows, thighs and groin. It will turn white if you press a glass on it. Once a child has had scarlet fever, it’s unlikely they’ll get it again.

According to the HSE, symtoms include:

  • headache
  • swollen neck glands
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • pastia lines (broken blood vessels in the folds of the body, such as the armpit, causing red streaks that may last a couple of days after the rash has gone)
  • white coating on the tongue, which peels a few days later leaving the tongue looking red and swollen (known as strawberry tongue)
  • a general feeling of being unwell

If you feel very unwell, with severe muscle aches, diarrhoea or vomiting, see your doctor to rule out other infections caused by streptococcal bacteria, such as toxic shock syndrome, which can be easily treated if caught early.

The HSE have said that although Scarlet Fever is rare in Ireland, it is highly contagious and can be caught by:

  • breathing in bacteria in airborne droplets from an infected person's coughs and sneezes
  • touching the skin of a person with a streptococcal skin infection
  • sharing contaminated towels, baths, clothes or bed linen