GPs put on scarlet fever alert as cases hit record levels for third year

GPs have been warned that a scarlet fever epidemic is ongoing in England, with officials revealing that the number of incidences looks set to exceed record-breaking levels for the third year running.

Public Health England (PHE) officials warned of a ‘steep increase’ in scarlet fever notifications across England since the disease’s current season began in September.

Close monitoring, rapid and decisive response to potential outbreaks and early treatment with a course of antibiotics is ‘essential’ to tackling the disease, it said in an alert to GPs and other health practitioners.

Around 600 cases are being notified a week at present, with figures set to climb higher towards peak season, which runs from late March to mid-April.

Some 609 cases were confirmed last week, compared to 576 for the same week last year – a 6% rise. 2015 went on to exhibit the highest levels in over 33 years at peak season.

The highly infectious disease, caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or group A streptococci bacteria, occurs most commonly affects children between two and eight years old. Symptoms include a rash, sore throat, flushed cheeks and swollen tongue.

Scarlet fever outbreak

PHE has also reported slight increase in incidence of other severe infections caused by group A streptococcus in recent weeks. It says it will continue to monitor the situation closely throughout the season.

Unusually high numbers of scarlet fever cases were first noted in 2014, which were at the time were the highest recorded since the 1989/90 season.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: ‘Individuals who think they or their child may have scarlet fever should seek advice from their GP without delay as prompt antibiotic treatment is needed.

‘Symptoms usually clear up after a week and the majority of cases will resolve without complication as long as the recommended course of antibiotics is completed.

‘As scarlet fever is highly contagious, children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay off school or work until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid passing on the infection.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Subject access requests to GP practices increased by a third under GDPR

Subject access requests to GP practices increased by a third under GDPR

The number of subject access requests (SARs) GP practices receive each month has...

RCGP criticises GP at Hand video showing antibiotics prescribed for sore throat

RCGP criticises GP at Hand video showing antibiotics prescribed for sore throat

A promotional video for Babylon GP at Hand that shows a patient with a sore throat...

Review into overprescribing aims to give GPs power to challenge hospital scrips

Review into overprescribing aims to give GPs power to challenge hospital scrips

A government review of overprescribing in the NHS could see GPs given more power...

Submit your session ideas for the RCGP Annual Conference 2019

Submit your session ideas for the RCGP Annual Conference 2019

GPs can now submit ideas for sessions at the RCGP Annual Conference in Liverpool,...

Scottish GP workforce increases for first time in 10 years, figures show

Scottish GP workforce increases for first time in 10 years, figures show

GP numbers in Scotland have risen slightly for the first time in 10 years despite...

More than 16m GP practice appointments a year lost to DNAs

More than 16m GP practice appointments a year lost to DNAs

More than 16m appointments at GP practices are lost every year because patients fail...