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Biological Health Hazard – Highly Infectious Streptococcus A, Outbreak: Surrey county, England

2016/03/05

STREPTOCOCCUS, GROUP A, SCARLET FEVER – UK (04): (ENGLAND)
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Published Date: 2016-03-05 15:20:36
Subject: PRO/EDR> Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (04): (England)
Archive Number: 20160305.4071562

Date: Fri 4 Mar 2016
Source: Derby Telegraph [edited]

Parents are being warned to be on the lookout for symptoms of scarlet fever as the number of reported cases in the region are among the highest in the country.

Scarlet fever is a highly contagious bacteria which can spread in a number of ways and is particularly common in children under the age of 10.

According to Public Health England the population rates of notified scarlet fever cases so far this season were highest in the East Midlands, at 15.1 per 100 000 population, followed by Yorkshire and Humber with 12.3 per 100 000.

The illness — which is common in March and April — can be identified by a pink rash, sore throat, fever and headaches. It was around the same time in 2015 that there was a spike in scarlet fever cases in the UK. The infection, which commonly affects young children, generally responds to a course of antibiotics and clears up within a week — but may lead to complications if left untreated.

Dr John Grenville, of Derbyshire’s Local Medical Committee, said: “Last year there was a high increase in cases of scarlet fever and we would expect that again this year. We don’t really know why this illness which was has been relatively dormant has reared itself again in the past few years. But it is usually this time of year when we can expect cases of it and this could be down to the cold weather and climate changes at this time.” Dr Grenville urged parents to be aware of the symptoms of the illness and said if they have any concerns they should contact their GP or seek advice on the 101 health number. He said: “Parents should be aware if their child becomes ill, has a high fever, behavioural changes and consciousness changes to seek advice.”

Dr Theresa Lamagni, head of streptococcal infection surveillance at Public Health England, said: “Individuals who think they or their child may have scarlet fever should see their GP without delay as antibiotic treatment is needed. As scarlet fever is highly contagious, children or adults diagnosed with it are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid passing on the infection.”

The illness can be caught by breathing in the same air as someone who has the bacteria or by coming into direct contact with an infected patient. To avoid getting the illness experts advise good hand hygiene after using the toilet, before preparing food and before eating food.

[Byline: Cheryl Hague]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts
<promed@promedmail.org>

[The East Midlands, one of 9 official regions of England, is located in central England, bounded by the following regions: on the north by the Yorkshire and the Humber, on the west by West Midlands, and on the south by the Southeast and East of England. Maps of England showing the regions of England can be found at http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/regions/.

For a discussion of scarlet fever, see my moderator comments in prior ProMED-mail posts below. – Mod.ML

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/promed/p/279.]


STREPTOCOCCUS, GROUP A, SCARLET FEVER – UK (03): (ENGLAND)
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Published Date: 2016-03-04 16:17:44
Subject: PRO/EDR> Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (03): (England)
Archive Number: 20160304.4069734

Date: Wed 2 Mar 2016
Source: Surrey Mirror [edited]

A total of 15 people in the borough [in Surrey county, England] have contracted the highly infectious scarlet fever illness since the beginning of the year [2016], with more cases likely to rise as the seasons change. In February [2016] a staggering 7 cases were reported in the borough in just one week.

Scarlet fever, which is so named because of the red rash which appears on the person’s face, legs, arm and chest, is a bacterial infection, which affects mostly children. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 15 reported cases of the illness in Reigate and Banstead, and a handful in Tandridge and Mole Valley district councils. Public Health England (PHE), which collates all notifications of infections and diseases, said there had been a significant increase in scarlet fever cases over the last 2 years, and this year was looking as though it may also be unusually high.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance said: “We can expect to see increasing numbers of cases of scarlet fever as the season progresses over the course of the winter and spring. Given the high number of patients reported to have scarlet fever last season, we are keeping a very close eye on national and local notifications.” PHE said so far this season, 2155 scarlet fever reports have been made across England since the 2nd week of September [2015] with around 250 cases of scarlet fever currently being notified each week across the country.

The illness usually reaches its highest levels in March and April. Outbreaks often occur in nurseries and schools where children are in close contact with one another. The symptoms of scarlet fever will only develop in people susceptible to toxins produced by the streptococcus bacteria. Most children over 10 years of age will have developed immunity to these toxins. It’s possible to catch scarlet fever more than once, but this is rare. Scarlet fever used to be a very serious illness, but nowadays most cases tend to be mild. It can easily be treated with antibiotics. Liquid antibiotics, such as penicillin or amoxicillin, are often used to treat children. These must be taken for 10 days, even though most people recover after 4 to 5 days. It’s important to be aware that your child will still be infectious for 24 hours after antibiotic treatment has begun, and therefore they shouldn’t attend nursery or school during this period. Without antibiotic treatment, your child will be infectious for 1-2 weeks after symptoms appear.

With the right treatment, further problems are unlikely. However, there’s a small risk of the infection spreading to other parts of the body and causing more serious infections, such as an ear infection, sinusitis or pneumonia. There’s currently no vaccine for scarlet fever. Children and adults should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and wash their hands with soap and water after using or disposing of tissues. Avoid sharing contaminated utensils, cups and glasses, clothes, baths, bed linen or towels. Scarlet fever is also sometimes known as scarlatina, although this often refers to a milder form of the illness.

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts
<promed@promedmail.org>

[Surrey is a county in the southeast of England, bordering Greater London, and is divided into 11 districts; Reigate and Banstead, Tandridge, and Mole Valley are local government districts in Surrey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrey).

For a discussion of scarlet fever, see my moderator comments in prior ProMED-mail posts below. – Mod.ML

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/promed/p/1203.]

See Also

Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (02): (England) update 20160228.4056695
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK: (England) update 20160107.3918810
2015
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Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (04): (England) update 20151126.3821874
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (03): (England) update 20150401.3269483
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (02): (England) update 20150316.3233795
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK: (England) update 20150215.3167754
2014
—-
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (10): (England) update 20140508.2457781
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (09): (England) update 20140425.2429368
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (08): (England) update 20140408.2388282
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (07): (England) background 20140322.2348946
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (06): (England) RFI 20140320.2344345
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (05): (England) RFI 20140312.2327490
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (04): (Scotland) RFI 20140306.2317827
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (03): (England) RFI 20140304.2311992
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK (02): England 20140302.2308816
Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK: England, alert 20140215.2279072
2013
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Streptococcus, group A, scarlet fever – UK: (England) 20130525.1737001
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Source:
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases


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