Scarlet fever cases soar to new high

Cases of scarlet fever have continued to rise in England, with the end of March seeing the highest number diagnosed in a single week for more than 30 years.

Scarlet fever cases continue to rise in England (photo: Biophoto Associates/SPL)
Scarlet fever cases continue to rise in England (photo: Biophoto Associates/SPL)

Officials at Public Health England (PHE) reported 883 new cases of the disease between 24 and 30 March, the highest weekly total since 1982.

It brings the total number of cases to 5,012 since September. This season has already seen the highest number of reported cases in recent decades. Officials previously said the surge was likely to be part of the disease's natural cycle over several years.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: ‘We are continuing to see increases in scarlet fever notifications across England and are working closely with healthcare professionals to try and understand the reasons behind these increases, and do our best to reduce the impact of this infection.’

PHE said that although most cases of the disease are mild and will resolve within a week, it was ‘essential’ for GPs to be well prepared for any uncommon complications, which can be fatal.

Scarlet fever mainly affects children between two and eight years old. There is currently no vaccine for the disease.

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