Behind the news headlines: Scarlet fever

What is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness which mainly affects children. It is due to a throat infection caused by a germ (bacterium) called streptococcus. There are various types (strains) of streptococcus. They cause different infections and a strain called group A streptococcus causes most instances of scarlet fever.

Why is scarlet fever in the news?

Public Health England (PHE) has recently issued a public warning, urging parents to be on the lookout for symptoms to help stop the spread of this disease, after new cases of scarlet fever were recorded. The peak of scarlet fever happens in March and April.

What are the symptoms of scarlet fever?

Sore throat and high temperature (fever) are the typical first symptoms. A bright red rash then starts to develop as spots, usually on the neck and upper chest.

Is scarlet fever infectious?

Yes - coughing, sneezing and breathing out the germs can pass it on to others.

Find out more about scarlet fever in our clinically-authored, up-to-date article.

Find support or advice from other patients in our scarlet fever discussion group.

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