Scarlet fever increase reported in East Midlands

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Parents in the East Midlands are being warned about an increasing number of scarlet fever cases since Christmas.

In Lincolnshire, staff at nurseries have been sent letters advising them on how to spot the warning signs.

Public Health England said there were 134 cases in the East Midlands in the first eight weeks of 2014, compared to 56 during the same period in 2013.

The childhood disease causes a high temperature and a red rash, but can be treated with antibiotics.

Scarlet fever symptoms

Scarlet fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Peeling skin on fingertips and toes
  • White coating on the tongue

Dr Philip Monk, a communicable disease expert, said: "For the majority of cases of scarlet fever, a course of antibiotics will cure the illness and reduce the risk of complications.

"People with high temperatures should drink plenty of fluids and keep cool and your doctor should be able to give advice on appropriate additional medication to relieve symptoms."

Dr Monk said it was important that people remember good hygiene practices.

Standard procedures such as using a tissue and washing your hands help cut down the risk of infection, he said.

The number of cases normally increases during the winter because scarlet fever bacteria is found in mucus and saliva - which can be spread through coughing and sneezing.

Liz Morgan, of Lincolnshire County Council's Public Health department, said: "In the majority of mild cases, scarlet fever will clear up by itself but antibiotics reduce symptoms, the risk of complications and of passing the infection on to someone else."

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