Parents' scarlet fever warning

Doctors warn of "spike" in scarlet fever cases
Doctors warn of "spike" in scarlet fever cases
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Residents are being urged to ensure they are vigilant in spotting the signs for Scarlet Fever after a rapid rise in the number of cases across Greater Manchester.

The disease occurs throughout the year but there is a seasonal pattern with the highest incidence between December and May, peaking in March and April.

But after a huge spike in the number of cases being reported at the start of the year, local health officials have urged residents to be on alert for symptoms, which often include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.

This is followed by a fine red rash which typically first appears on the chest and stomach, rapidly spreading to other parts of the body. On more darkly-pigmented skin, the scarlet rash may be harder to spot, but it should feel like ‘sandpaper’.

The face can be flushed red but pale around the mouth.

Children who have had chickenpox recently are more likely to develop more serious infection and parents should remain vigilant for symptoms such as: a persistent high fever, cellulitis (skin infection), and Arthritis.

Professor Kate Ardern, Wigan Council’s director for public health, said: “It’s extremely important that everyone ensures they know what to look out for in cases of Scarlet Fever especially with young children.

“If you think you are showing signs I would urge you to visit your local GP urgently to ensure you get the antibiotics needed to combat the infection, make sure that you take the full course of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor.

“It is advisable to stay at home, away from nursery, school or work for at least 24 hours after starting the antibiotic treatment, to avoid spreading the infection.”

The advice comes off the back of new findings which revealed that more than 137 suspected cases of scarlet fever were reported across the combined authority in the six weeks leading up to January 7 - up from 85 reports over the same period, 12 months earlier.

If you think you or your child has scarlet fever, visit your GP or contact the NHS on 111 as soon as possible.