Cases more than doubled in Thurrock in the last year
Public Health England (PHE) have issued advice to those worried about the recent scourge in cases of scarlet fever in the borough.
In the four weeks to January 28, 48 suspected cases of scarlet fever have been reported in Essex to PHE.
The number of reports is much higher than in the same period in the previous five years. There were 23 cases reported in 2017, 25 in 2016, and nine in 2014 and 2015.
Also worrying is the trend for cases increasing week on week in the first two months of the year.
Thurrock reported 5 cases in January, more than doubling from the two recorded in 2017.
Scarlet fever is a very contagious, seasonal bacterial illness that mainly affects children but PHE say it is not uncommon for this time of year.
Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness; PHE is advising parents to be on the lookout for scarlet fever symptoms, which include a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red rash with a sandpapery feel. If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, it is important to contact your local GP or NHS 111.
Nick Phin, Deputy Director at Public Health England, said: “It’s not uncommon to see a rise in cases of scarlet fever at this time of year. Scarlet fever is not usually a serious illness and can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications and spread to others. We are monitoring the situation closely and remind parents to be aware of the symptoms of scarlet fever and to contact their GP for assessment if they think their child might have it.”
He also said greater awareness and improved reporting practices may have contributed to this increase.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:
Scarlet Fever is a bacterial infection that usually presents with a sore throat, fever, headaches, and a rosy rash that generally starts on a patient’s chest.
Scarlet fever used to be a lot more common than it is now, but GPs are noticing more cases than in previous years at the moment. If a patient thinks that they, or their child, might have symptoms, they should seek medical assistance.
Gemma Bird, from Billericay, recently experienced the infection first-hand.
She said: “My son had scarlet fever when he was two years old. I’d never really heard of it before and it was really scary.
“My son just slept on and off for days and appeared very weak; nothing like his normal mischievous self.
“He didn’t eat hardly anything for five days. Luckily once the medicine kicked in he was back to his normal self in about three days.”