Fears of outbreak grow as scarlet fever cases double in part of the UK – map reveals worst-hit areas | The Sun
CASES of scarlet fever have more than doubled in parts of the UK, new figures have revealed.
In Wales, suspected infections have climbed to 55 in the week ending October 29, more than double the 26 confirmed the week before.
Scarlet fever cases have steadily risen since September, but still appear lower than last year, according to UK Health Security Agency data.
The bacterial infection is triggered by Group A Strep bacteria.
It was more widespread in the Victorian era when it was far more deadly.
Thanks to better hygienic practices, the disease no longer displays as severe symptoms.
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However, even today, the bug can still be deadly.
The South East has recorded a 53 per cent increase in cases within the last week, from 32 to 44.
The West Midlands also saw a 53 per cent increase in suspected infections – from 17 to 26 cases.
Next came Yorkshire and Humber, which reported a 52 per cent rise in cases, up to 46 cases.
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The East Midlands reported a 39 per cent increase in cases, from 36 cases last week to 50.
And the South West noted 15 cases this week, a 36 per cent increase from the 11 cases reported a week earlier.
Meanwhile, case numbers in the North East, North West, East of England, London and the South West have all fallen slightly.
In rare cases, the bacteria can reach the bloodstream and cause a fatal invasive disease called iGAS.
Anyone can catch it, but it most commonly affects children under the age of 10.
Cases of Strep A surged last winter, peaking in December – this led to severe antibiotic shortages.
During that time, a total of 426 people, including 48 children, died with iGAS in England.
So far this season there have been 1,233 cases of scarlet fever and 216 invasive group A streptococcus infections – slightly higher than usual for this time of year.
By comparison, a separate UKHSA report said there were 61,442 cases of scarlet fever seen last winter season and 4,412 cases of iGAS.
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Commenting on the rise in cases, Dr Theresa Lamagni, an epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: "Scarlet fever and invasive Group A strep is currently at low levels but starting to show slight increases in line with what we would typically see at this time of year.
"Numbers of cases are below this same period last year and considerably lower than the high levels seen last December."
Scarlet fever symptoms
The NHS says you should watch out for:
- A sore throat
- Skin infection, including blisters or impetigo
- A large itchy pink or red rash on the skin
- A high temperature
- Flushed cheeks
- A swollen tongue
- Swollen neck glands
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Red lines in the folds of the body, such as the armpit, which may last a couple of days after the rash has gone
- A white coating on the tongue, which peels a few days later leaving the tongue red and swollen (this is known as strawberry tongue)
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