Scarlet Fever: what to look out for

Scarlet Fever is a highly contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects children and cases are expected to peak in March and April.

Public Health England say around 250 cases of Scarlet Fever are currently being notified each week across England - a similar number to last year but higher than in previous years.

The illness is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, also known as group A streptococcus, which are found on the skin and in the throat.

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever so that early treatment with antibiotics can be given.

Symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache and fever with a sandpapery, fine, pink rash developing within 1 to 2 days of first symptoms.

If you or your child develops any of these symptoms you should contact your GP. NHS Choices also provides helpful information on symptoms of infection including photographs of the rash.

Whilst scarlet fever is not usually a severe illness it should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of further complications and to minimise the risk of spread of the infection to others.

Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

Schools, nurseries and childcare settings can play an important role in controlling the spread of infections by embedding good hand hygiene practice within daily routines for both pupils and staff.

Children and adults should be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough and sneeze and to wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.

See the PHE guidance on the management of scarlet fever outbreaks in schools nurseries and childcare settings