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Urgent warning as cases of Victorian disease climb this winter – the 12 signs you need to know

CASES of a dangerous Victorian disease have surged in recent weeks and parents have been warned to be on the lookout for symptoms.

Scarlet fever is one of winter’s childhood illnesses.

Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria known as group A streptococcus
Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria known as group A streptococcus
Getty – Contributor

The bacterial infection can be caught by anyone, but most commonly affects children under ten.

Complications from scarlet fever are rare but can include deadly illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis.

New infectious disease data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggests cases of scarlet fever have increased by 60 per cent within the last month, from 16 October to the 20 November.

This is higher than what is expected for this time of year.

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Cases of scarlet fever are highest in the east midlands, which accounts for 17 per cent of all infections in England.

Meanwhile, the south west appears to have the fewest number of cases, with just on one per cent of all reported infections coming from the area.

NHS Scottish Borders said it is monitoring high numbers of the bug in the community.

Experts in Scotland have urged parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the Victorian illness so that early treatment with antibiotics can be given.


The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also issued new guidance to parents on scarlet fever as part of a guide on how to keep under 5s safe this winter.

Previously, Dr Chun Tang, GP and Medical Director at Pall Mall Medical, told The Sun : “It’s been relatively rare in the UK for the past few decades but cases have been rising.

“It’s a contagious disease and can make children feel rather poorly.”
Treatment is usually a ten-day course of antibiotics.

Dr Naveen Puri, associate clinical director at Bupa Health Clinics, who offer GP services to one to 18-year-olds, explained: “It is contagious and passed through coughing, sneezing or close contact, sharing bath towels, clothes, bed sheets or cutlery with the infected person.

“If your child has scarlet fever, keep them out of school and away from other people.”

What are the 12 symptoms of scarlet fever?

According to the NHS, the following signs could be symptoms of the disease:

  1. sore throat
  2. skin infection, including blisters or impetigo
  3. high temperature
  4. headache
  5. flushed cheeks
  6. large pink or red rash on the skin, which is often itchy and feels like sandpaper
  7. swollen neck glands
  8. loss of appetite
  9. nausea or vomiting
  10. red lines in the folds of the body, such as the armpit, which may last a couple of days after the rash has gone
  11. a white coating on the tongue, which peels a few days later leaving the tongue red and swollen (this is known as strawberry tongue)
  12. a general feeling of being unwell

What to do if you or your child has scarlet fever and can it be treated?

In the past, cases of scarlet fever could be extremely serious.

Thankfully, modern day instances are often mild and can easily be treated with antibiotics.

Parents are advised to book an appointment for their children at their local GP if they notice symptoms of the bacterial bug.

f diagnosed, sufferers will be prescribed a course of liquid antibiotics, which are to be taken for ten days.

Symptoms often clear up within two weeks, but there can be complications of scarlet fever.

There is a small risk of the infection spreading to other parts of the body, causing ear infection, sinusitis or pneumonia.

It’s advisable to return to your GP as soon as possible if you’re affected by headache, vomiting or diarrhoea after the initial scarlet fever symptoms have cleared up.

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