- Scarlet fever symptoms include a rash and red cheeks
- Contagious infection can cause a white film on patients’ tongues
- Cases more than double the five-year average
- Public Health England urges parents to be vigilant for signs of infection
Scarlet fever cases have almost hit 12,000 since the middle of September 2017, according to Public Health England (PHE).
The average for the same period over the past five years is 4,480.
The health watchdog has urged parents and patients to watch out for signs of infection as the number of cases continue to rise.
Speak to a GP or dial NHS 111 if signs of scarlet fever are suspected, PHE said.
“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,” said PHE’s Deputy Director, Nick Phin.
“Whilst there has been a notable increase in scarlet fever cases when compared to last season, greater awareness and improved reporting practices may have contributed to this increase.”
Scarlet fever is a very contagious disease, and is much more common in children under 10 years old than adults, added Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs.
“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,” said Stokes-Lampard.
“If a patient thinks that they, or their child, might have symptoms, they should seek medical assistance.”
Early symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, a headache, a fever, and swollen glands in the neck, the NHS said.
Symptoms may be followed by a rash on the body, a red face, and a white or red tongue.
The rash usually begins on the chest or tummy, and spreads to other areas of the body.
It may feel like sandpaper, and is made up of pink-red blotches that join up.
The patient may also develop a white coating on their tongue.
The coating usually peels away after a few days, the NHS said.
See a GP if you think you may have scarlet fever, or your child may be infected. You should also see a doctor if you’ve been treated for scarlet fever, but the symptoms haven’t improved after seven days.