Advice over scarlet fever

Cases of scarlet fever are not reported.
Cases of scarlet fever are not reported.

Despite evidence of a rise in the number of scarlet fever cases in the UK, no information on Fife figures is available.

This is because the highly contagious infection is not reported in Scotland (or Northern Ireland) as it is in England and Wales.

Scarlet fever is no longer a reportable disease in Scotland and therefore no definitive figures are currently available.

Several areas of the UK have been reporting high levels of scarlet fever – said in one account to be at their highest level since the 1960s

Scarlet fever is not the potentially deadly threat posed to some sufferers in decades past.

It can be treated with antibiotics, but there are no figures available for how it is currently affecting Scotland.

Reports from down south suggest a substantial rise in the number of cases over the winter, with more than 6200 cases reported between September and the end of January.

The scarlet fever infection usually affects children and is most common in youngsters between the ages of four and eight. However, people of all ages can catch it.

NHS Fife Director of Public Health, Dr Margaret Hannah, explained: “The infection is caused by a germ called streptococcus pyogenes and is spread through the mucus and saliva of an infected person; through coughing and sneezing.

“It can also be spread through close physical contact with a person with streptococcal skin infection.

“Your GP can diagnose scarlet fever from the symptoms alone, though they may also take a throat swab for testing.

“Scarlet fever is normally treated with a course of antibiotics.

“Youngsters should not attend nursery or school and adults should stay off work until they are well and have completed 24 hours of the antibiotic course.

“You can prevent the spread of infection by disposing of all used tissues immediately and washing your hands; ensuring the infected person has their own towels for personal use; and by not sharing eating utensils.”

Symptoms include; a sore throat and fever, pink or red rash on body, ‘strawberry tongue’ – where the tongue can be become swollen and red, headache, swollen glands, loss of appetite, general feeling of being unwell.

Anyone who suspects their child may have scarlet fever is generally advised to keep them at home, and to contact their GP.