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Scarlet Fever in the United Kingdom (Update)

01 May 2014

The outbreak of scarlet fever in the United Kingdom (UK) is ongoing and Public Health England (PHE) continues to report a significant rise in notifications. Between 31 March and 6 April 2014, 1049 new scarlet fever cases were recorded in England, making a total of 7198 cases since the season began in September 2013.

Scarlet fever is a seasonal disease and the peak time for new cases is approaching; a decline in numbers of cases should be reported over the coming weeks. In the previous 10 years, the scarlet fever season (September to April) has had an average of 1836 notifications of cases; ranging between 964-3214.

PHE has produced guidance for managing the continuing increase in scarlet fever cases in schools, nurseries and other child-care facilities.

(Via PHE News - accessed 01/05/14)

Advice for Travellers

Scarlet fever is a fairly common bacterial childhood illness, mostly affecting those between 2-8 years-of-age. Before the use of antibiotics, it could be a serious infection.

It is highly infectious and is spread by close contact with an infected person. The bacteria are carried in the saliva and mucus in the nose and are spread by sneezing, coughing, or breathing out. It can also be transmitted from drinking glasses, plates or utensils used by an infected person. To reduce the risk of infection individuals should:

  • Avoid contact with a known infected person if possible.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Not share eating utensils with an infected person
  • Wash, or dispose of, handkerchiefs and tissues contaminated by an infected person carefully
  • Be aware that you can catch scarlet fever by inhaling airborne droplets if someone with the illness coughs or sneezes in the air near you.

Further general information on scarlet fever. (external weblink)