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Scarlet Fever in the United Kingdom (Update)

27 May 2014

Public Health England has reported that the number of new cases of scarlet fever in England is beginning to decline. For the week beginning 5 May 2014, a total of 415 cases were reported. As scarlet fever is a seasonal illness, a reduction in new cases would be expected around this time.

Although the number of new cases per week has reduced by 50% compared with those in April, the level of infections remain high throughout England. The total number of cases for 2014 is 8322. This is the highest number of cases reported in any one year since 1980 when 11 118 notifications were registered.

(Via PHE News - accessed 27/05/14)

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)