Scarlet Fever: Fact File

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Scarlet Fever
What is scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever is an uncommon infection caused by a type of bacteria called Streptococcus progenies. The disease most commonly presents in children or adults with a ‘strep throat’ infection or tonsillitis, followed by the development of a skin rash. Most children will fully recover within a week or so. Deaths from scarlet fever are now extremely rare.

How is scarlet fever spread?
The bacterium is found in the nose and/or throat of an infected person and can spread by * Coughing or sneezing
* Direct contact with an infected person
* Sharing food or drink with an infected person

What are the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever?
* Sore throat and fever are the typical first symptoms
* A bright red (scarlet) rash then soon develops. This is caused by a poison that is released in the blood stream by the streptococcal bacteria. * The rash starts as small red spots, usually on the neck and upper chest. It soon spreads to many other parts of the body and may fell like sandpaper. The rash tends to go white if you press on it. The face is usually spared by the rash, but may become quite flushed. * The tongue may become quite pale but with red spots (strawberry tongue). After a few days the whole tongue may look red. * Other common symptoms include headaches, nausea and vomiting, being off food, and feeling generally unwell.

How can scarlet fever be treated?
Treatment is important and consisted of a course of antibiotics (usually penicillin) to kill the bacterium and prevent serious complications. What can you do?
* Paracetamol may be given to reduce fever and relieve sore throat * Drink lots of fluids
* Rest a lot
* See your doctor. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics it is important to complete the course.
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