GPs warned of steep rise in scarlet fever

GPs have been told to be on the alert for scarlet fever, amid concerns that the UK could be heading for a repeat of last year's record outbreak.

Scarlet fever: levels higher than last year (Photo: Science Photo Library)
Scarlet fever: levels higher than last year (Photo: Science Photo Library)

There were 1,265 cases reported in the first six weeks of 2015, compared to 762 cases in the same period last year, data from Public Health England (PHE) show.

The figures raise concerns that scarlet fever may be even more prevalent this April, which is peak season for the bacterial infection.

Last April the number of cases of scarlet fever reached a 30-year high, with 883 cases reported in one week alone, and levels remained high throughout the winter.

GP scarlet fever warning

‘As we enter into high season for scarlet fever, we ask GPs and other frontline medical staff to be mindful of the current high levels of scarlet fever activity when assessing patients,’ said Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance.

‘Prompt notification of cases to local health protection teams is critical to enable local monitoring and rapid response to outbreaks.’

Symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache, fever and nausea, and a characteristic rash.

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