Scarlet fever increase in school age children – what to do?

You will have heard that there is an increase in scarlet fever in school age children in England.  Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria called group A streptococci. These bacteria also cause other respiratory and skin infections such as strep throat and impetigo. In very rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).

As of 2nd of December, we’ve had no cases of iGAS in Suffolk so far but are seeing some cases of Scarlet fever.

Here are some information resources that may be useful:

A fact sheet that covers what scarlet fever is and other frequently asked questions: Factsheet (

For guidance on symptoms, diagnosis on treatment, visit: Scarlet fever: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment – GOV.UK (

This gives the initial symptoms of scarlet fever as a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, which is followed after 12 to 48 hours by a characteristic fine red rash.   Typically, the rash first appears on the chest and stomach, rapidly spreading to other parts of the body. On more darkly-pigmented skin, the rash may be harder to spot, although a ‘sandpaper’ feel to the rash should be present.

It also makes it clear that anyone with symptoms should seek a consultation with a GP.  If the GP thinks it is scarlet fever the GP will prescribe appropriate antibiotics.  The individual will need to be away from school for 24 hours after starting the antibiotic (or until fully recovered if not accepting antibiotics).

Comprehensive guidance on the public health management of scarlet fever outbreaks in educational settings: Guidelines for the public health management of scarlet fever outbreaks in schools, nurseries and other childcare settings

Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. Teaching children washing their hands properly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up, or spreading, infections.

Having an ill child can be very scary experience for parents. This booklet is for parents (and older children) and deals with common infections in children who are normally healthy.

When should I worry booklet