Scarlet fever cases last week exceeded all previous records, GPs warned

GPs have been told to prescribe antibiotics to help stem the current scarlet fever outbreak, as public health experts confirm the number of cases rose higher last week than in any other since records began 34 years ago in 1982.

Over 1,300 cases of scarlet fever were confirmed in patients in England last week - the highest number in a single week since records began, according to Public Health England (PHE).

This means over 10,500 confirmed cases have been confirmed so far in the current season for the disease, which officially began in September.

The disease usually reaches peak levels around this time of year starting mid-March and lasting throughout April.

GPs are advised to prescribe antibiotics to help treat the disease, which typically strikes children between two and eight years old.

PHE has warned that current trends suggest the whole 2016 season will see more cases than the previously record-breaking levels of 2015.

This would mark the third consecutive year in which scarlet fever levels have surpassed all previously recorded data.

Scarlet fever

Some 1,200 more cases have been confirmed so far this year compared to last year, which had seen 9,400 by this point.

A total of 17,600 cases went on to be recorded in the 2015 season, building on from the 15,600 confirmed cases in 2014.

Cases have particularly increased in areas across the south of England, with London, Kent, Hertfordshire, Essex and others experiencing hundreds more cases than last year.

Meanwhile, cases appear to have fallen further north in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and Manchester.

The figures have been coupled with an increase in invasive disease caused by the same bacterium group A streptococcus (GAS) which causes scarlet fever, which include bloodstream infection and pneumonia.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: ‘As we reach peak season for scarlet fever, health practitioners should be particularly mindful of the current high levels of scarlet fever when assessing patients.

‘Close monitoring, rapid and decisive response to potential outbreaks and early treatment of scarlet fever with an appropriate antibiotic remains essential, especially given the potential complications associated with group A streptococcal infections. Scarlet fever should be treated with antibiotics to reduce risk of complications.’

Photo: iStock

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

External wall of GP surgery with wording 'medical centre'

‘Utterly toxic’: GPs speak out over abuse and physical attacks on practice teams

GPs have condemned a rise in verbal and physical attacks on practice staff - warning...

Artist's image of a spiked virus

Javid warns of 'substantial risk' from new COVID-19 variant

The highly mutated COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 'may pose a significant risk to public...

Desk with lettering 'LMC conference'

LMCs reject 'outdated' GMS contract and demand move to item of service payments

LMCs have voted to scrap the 'outdated and inadequate' GMS contract and to replace...

GPs at an LMC conference waving green voting cards in the air

LMCs demand ringfence on enhanced services cash and clear GP representation in ICSs

LMCs have called for a ringfence on enhanced services funding, along with a guarantee...

Close up of hands typing on a computer

Practices should not be required to provide online consultations, say LMCs

Online consultations should no longer be a part of the GMS contract and targets for...

Sign outside BMA House

More than half of GP practices prepared to pull out of PCNs, BMA ballot shows

More than half of GP practices in England are prepared to opt out of the PCN DES...