Clinical update

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever cases have reached their highest level in 30 years.

Essential facts

Scarlet fever is characterised by a rash that usually accompanies a sore throat and flushed cheeks.

It is mainly a childhood illness and while this contagious disease rarely poses a danger to life today, outbreaks in the past led to many deaths.

Scarlet fever cases have reached their highest level for more than 30 years, according to Public Health England (PHE). There have been 5,012 new cases reported since the season began in September 2013, compared with an average 1,650 cases reported in the same period over the previous ten years. PHE is looking into the reasons behind this UK-wide increase.

The first symptoms often include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12-48 hours the characteristic fine red rash develops. It feels like sandpaper and typically first appears on the chest and stomach, rapidly spreading to other parts of the


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