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An unprecedented rise in scarlet fever has been recorded in England with the highest incidences for nearly 50 years, new research shows.Reasons for this escalation are unclear and identifying these remains a public health priority, says The Lancet Journal.Long-term health problems from scarlet fever may include rheumatic fever, kidney disease or arthritis. Any child diagnosed with scarlet fever should not go to school until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment while any adult affected should stay off work for at least 24 hours after starting treatment. Shocking scarlet fever statistics released by Public Health England show that last week there were 253 confirmed cases in London.“We are strongly urging people with symptoms of scarlet fever, which include a sore throat, headache and fever accompanied by a characteristic rash, to consult their GP.” Also known as scarlatina, scarlet fever is an infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, which are found on the skin and in the throat.While it is most common in young children it can affect people of any age, the NHS reports.Yet, there is no vaccine against the disease and all cases must be reported by doctors to the local health authority. Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria known as group A streptococcus and is spread through close contact with people carrying the organism, often in the throat.
This new warning comes just weeks after Public Health England announced the number of scarlet fever cases had reached the highest levels since the 1960s.The disease was a common cause of death in the Victorian era, but had largely been in decline since the introduction of antibiotics.Study leader Dr Theresa Lamagni, head of streptococcal surveillance at Public Health England, said: "Whilst current rates are nowhere near those seen in the early 1900s, the magnitude of the recent upsurge is greater than any documented in the last century.PHESE said it was aware of an increase in cases in Hampshire and reminded schools and nurseries across the county of the signs to be aware of.Dr Anand Fernandes, consultant in communicable disease for PHESE, added: “Any child suspected of having scarlet fever should see their GP, take a course of antibiotics as prescribed and stay off nursery or school for at least 24 hours after starting treatment to avoid spreading the infection.
Finally, a white coating may form on the tongue which peels away after a few days, leaving it red and swollen.