There have been more than 100 cases of scarlet fever reported in the West Midlands in the past six weeks, up by nearly a third on the number in the same period last year.
In the six weeks to January 7, covering December and the festive period, 128 suspected cases of scarlet fever have been reported to Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands met area.
The number of reports is much higher than in the same period in the previous five years, the six weeks to Week 01 of PHE reports. There were 98 cases reported in 2016/17, the previous peak, and just eight in 2013/14.
Birmingham has seen the highest number of reports over the six week period to January 7, with 51, followed by 21 in Wolverhampton and 16 in Walsall, up from 42, five and 10 respectively in the same weeks in 2016/17.
Reports in 2016/17 have averaged around 25 a week in the four weeks to December 24, falling to 16 reports in the week to January 7.
Across England and Wales, in the six weeks to January 7, covering December and the festive period, 2,507 suspected cases of scarlet fever have been reported to Public Health England (PHE).
The number of reports is much higher than in the same period in the previous two years, the six weeks to Week 01 of PHE reports, when 1,382 cases were reported in 2016/17 and 1,339 in 2015/16.
The number of reported scarlet fever cases across England and Wales is at its highest level for this time of year since at least 2010/11 – when 304 cases were reported.
Scarlet fever cases tend to be more prevalent between December and April.
Symptoms of scarlet fever develop within a week of being infected. Early signs include a sore throat, a headache, a high temperature, swollen glands in the neck and being sick.
This may be followed by a rash on the body, which is made up of pink-red blotches and usually starts on the chest or stomach, a red face and a white or red tongue.
What is scarlet fever?
It is caused by a bacteria known as group A steptococcus (GAS), which are found on the skin and the throat, and results in a distinctive pink-red rash.
What are the symptoms of Scarlet Fever?
The first symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat and fever which may be accompanied by a headache, nausea and vomiting.
Between 12 to 48 hours after this, a widespread, fine pink-red rash, which feels like sandpaper when touched, will first appear on the chest or stomach.
Other symptoms may include:
– Swollen neck glands
– Loss of appetite
– Red lines in the folds of the body, such as the armpit, which may last a couple of days after the rash has gone
– A white coating on the tongue, which peels a few days later leaving the tongue red and swollen (this is known as strawberry tongue).
What should I do if I think I have scarlet fever?
Individuals who think they or their child may have scarlet fever should contact their GP as soon as possible.
While it is not usually a severe illness, people who catch scarlet fever should treat it with antibiotics to reduce the risk of further complications and minimise the risk of spread of the infection to others.
Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are also advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
How can I prevent scarlet fever?
For families and friends caring for someone with scarlet fever, the risk of spread can be reduced through frequent hand washing and ensuring clothes, bedding, towels and cutlery are not shared between members of the household.
Source : BirminghamMail