Scarlet Fever / Group A Streptococcal Infections - Dec 2022
In recent days, we have seen increased media coverage and raised public anxiety regarding scarlet fever and Group A Streptococcal infections, especially in children, following a small number of tragic deaths.
Scarlet fever is a common childhood infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes (also known as group A Streptococcus [GAS]). These bacteria may be found on the skin, throat and other sites where they can live without causing problems.
GAS can cause infections including sore throat, impetigo and scarlet fever which although unpleasant, are generally minor illnesses.
On rare occasions GAS can cause severe or invasive disease, including pneumonia and septicaemia.
It is important to remember that the overall risk to the population remains very low. However, as a precautionary measure, extra vigilance is paramount.
What to look out for
- Common symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, often with a red, swollen tongue, headache, fever and pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel.
- On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel.
- Scarlet fever is typically treated with a course of antibiotics.
- If a pupil has scarlet fever, parents/carers should keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.