Public Health England (PHE) has reported a significant increase in the number of scarlet fever cases recorded since mid-2018. During a one-week period ending on December 23, nearly 400 cases of scarlet fever were reported, the highest one-week total since June. Officials have urged individuals exhibiting flu-like symptoms to consult a medical professional in order to better combat the spread of the bacterial illness.
Scarlet fever usually starts with a sore throat, headache, and fever and may be followed by a fine red rash, which gives the skin a sandpaper-like texture. The rash may occur on any part of the body but typically begins on the face or neck and spreads to the chest, back, arms, and legs. The tongue of the infected person may appear swollen, red, and bumpy, and have a "strawberry-like" appearance with a whitish coating. Symptoms are usually mild but serious complications may develop, including otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear), throat abscess, pneumonia, meningitis, acute rheumatic fever, kidney failure, sepsis, and toxic shock syndrome.
Individuals in the UK are advised to seek medical attention if presenting the above symptoms and to take preventive measures to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading the disease (e.g. frequent handwashing, sneezing into one's elbow, and avoiding contact with individuals presenting symptoms of scarlet fever).
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