Childhood diseases – Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever is caused by the streptococcus bacteria and is characterised by a rash, sore throat and strawberry coloured tongue

The condition usually clears up with antibiotics but occasionally complications such as pneumonia, sinusitis and inflammation of the middle ear can occur. Like measles, scarlet fever is a disease that by law must be reported to a health officer.

Infection occurs after exposure to airborne droplets from an infected person or through touch. Infection to outbreak is 3-8 days.

Symptoms of scarlet fever
- Sore throat
- High temperature
- Headache
- Feeling unwell
- Generalised rash
- Flushed cheeks (scarlet in colour except for the mouth)
- Peeling skin (after treatment)
- White coating across the tongue (peels to leave a strawberry coloured appearance)

Treatment for scarlet fever
With antibiotics, the disease clears after a week but your child can remain contagious for a further 1-3 weeks if untreated.

As soon as antibiotics are given, your child should remain off school.

Manage the symptoms by:
- Giving your child hot drinks and soft food to ease painful swallowing
- Making sure they have plenty of fluids
- Treating the fever with paracetamol (e.g. Calpol for younger children)

Three-day Fever >>

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