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Scarlet fever numbers remain high with new cases

8,305 new cases since September of last year

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 02 May 2014

The number of new scarlet fever cases in England is continuing to rise to what is considered to be “high levels” according to Public Health England (PHE).

PHE said today in new data there were 405 new cases reported in the last week from 21 to 27 April, which means a total of 8,305 new cases have now been reported since the season began in September 2013.

An average of 1,982 cases of scarlet fever have been reported for the same period (September to April) in the previous 10 years.

Given that scarlet fever is a seasonal disease and this is the time of year when it is normal for the number of cases to decline, PHE said seasonal pattern might not happen because of the unusual rise in incidence this year.

Scarlet fever is mainly a childhood disease, most common between the ages of 2 and 8 years, although adults can also develop it.

Data from recent weeks suggested a decline in incidence, but overall numbers were still high and PHE wanted a continuation of close monitoring to assess the impact of children returning to school after the Easter break.

Last month, PHE sent a template letter to GPs within a guidance document to warn colleagues about local outbreaks, which listed the signs and symptoms of the infection, reminded GPs of the complications, and advised on testing and antibiotic treatment.

Investigations were continuing across the country to assess whether a new strain may have emerged, said PHE.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: “We are still observing exceptionally high numbers of cases and will continue to monitor the situation closely to see if there is a sustained fall over the coming weeks.

“We strongly urge people to remain vigilant and to go to their GP if they develop symptoms which suggest scarlet fever such as a sore throat, fever, headache and rash.”

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