Scarlet fever cases in Nottinghamshire are double the number last year

This post first appeared on Nottingham Post. Read the original article.

Almost 70 cases of scarlet fever have been reported across Nottinghamshire in a period of just six weeks.

In the six weeks to January 7, which includes December and the festive period, 68 suspected cases of scarlet fever have been reported to Public Health England in the area.

This latest figure is double the number in the same period last year, and continues a trend of the number of reported cases rising in recent years.

The city of Nottingham had the highest number of reports in our area – 20 – over the period, up from 14 during the same time the previous year; followed by nine in Newark and Sherwood, which saw no reported cases in the same weeks in 2016/17.

Scarlet fever is caused by the streptococcus bacteria and is spread through close contact.

The total number of reported cases is much higher than in the same period in the previous five years, according to Public Health England reports.

There were 31 cases during that time in 2016/17, as well as a previous peak of 66 in 2015/16.

Sick child with scarlet fever

Sick child with scarlet fever

Across England and Wales as a whole, in the six weeks to January 7, a total of 2,507 suspected cases of scarlet fever have been reported to Public Health England.

The number of cases is much higher than in the same period in the previous two years, when 1,382 were reported in 2016/17 and 1,339 in 2015/16.

Recent figures show that cases in England have reached the highest level in 50 years. In the whole of 2016 there were 19,000 reported - the most since 1967.

Scarlet fever symptoms

Scarlet fever symptoms

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria known as group A streptococcus.

Cases occur year round but tend to be more prevalent between December and April.

It is spread through close contact with people carrying the organism, often in the throat, or by touching objects and surfaces contaminated with the bacterium.

Symptoms of scarlet fever develop within a week of being infected.

It was a common cause of childhood death in Victorian times and even today, in rare cases it can cause severe illnesses such as pneumonia, sepsis and liver and kidney damage.

Early signs include a sore throat, a headache, a high temperature, swollen glands in the neck and being sick.

This may be followed by a rash on the body, which is made up of pink-red blotches and usually starts on the chest or stomach, a red face and a white or red tongue.

What should I do?

Contact your GP or call NHS 111 as soon as possible. Scarlet fever is treatable with antibiotics and the sooner they are administered the quicker recovery is likely to be. Patients typically start feeling better within a couple of days of taking them.

In severe cases scarlet fever can lead to secondary infections such as pneumonia.