Public Health England (PHE) are once again encouraging parents and nursery workers to look out for the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever in their children.

While cases are not expected to reach their 2013/14 peak, rates in England are still likely to be higher than a decade ago.

How to spot scarlet fever

The infectious disease, most commonly affecting children aged between two and eight years, has seasonal rises from December to April. Eighty-nine per cent of all reported case last winter involve children under 10 years.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: “The first symptoms of scarlet fever often include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Between 12 to 48 hours after this, a characteristic rash develops. Cases are more common in children although adults can also develop scarlet fever. Symptoms usually clear up after a week and the majority of cases can be treated with a course of antibiotics to reduce risk of complications.”

  • sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • headache
  • fever (38.3C/101F or above)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • after 12-48 hours, a distinctive bumpy ‘sandpaper’ rash will appear. This usually starts on the stomach or chest before spreading
  • tongue may turn white or red

The PHE strongly urges people with symptoms of scarlet fever to consult their GP or call NHS 111. This will help prevent the risk of complications.

Once known as a dangerous infection, today scarlet fever is now considered far less serious. Most cases can be easily treated with a course of antibiotics. Those who have had the illness before are unlikely to catch it again.

To stop scarlet fever spreading

  • keep your child away from nursery or school for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment – adults should stay off work for at least 24 hours after starting treatment
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw away used tissues immediately
  • wash your hands with soap and water often, especially after using or disposing of tissues
  • avoid sharing utensils, cups and glasses, clothes, baths, bed linen, towels or toys

For more guidance visit NHS.