It’s common for scarlet fever to be seen in the winter but the past two months has had more cases than is expected. Alerts have been issued in the UK to regional health protection staff and consultant microbiologists. Hospital emergency wards and GP surgeries have also been issued a letter warning them to be alert.
Scarlet fever is also known as Scarlatina. It is caused by Group A Streptococcus, which is also the most common cause of strep throat. The symptoms of the disease is a high fever, sore throat and swollen glands. It can be treated with common antibiotics. Very rarely it can lead to pneumonia, throat abscess, sinusitis and meningitis.
There have been cases where the bacteria starts to attack the the flesh causing necrotising fasciitis (the “flesh eating” bug), septicaemia and toxic shock syndrome. There has been an increase of invasive Strep A. This strain is deadly, one in four will die. The risk is highest with those who already have a compromised immune system.
During the 19th and early 20th century Scarlet Fever was a killer. Almost 5 percent of those who fell ill would die at that time. After antibiotics came into play the death rates plummeted.
Speaking from personal history it is very important to treat scarlet fever and strep throats. If left untreated this illness can lead to heart disease. At times it can take decades for the heart disease to appear.