‘Concerning’ rise in cases of scarlet fever

BACKLASH -- a severe rash like this could be a symptom of scarlet fever.
BACKLASH -- a severe rash like this could be a symptom of scarlet fever.

Parents, schools and nurseries in the Mansfield and Ashfield area are being warned about a sharp and ‘concerning’ rise in cases of scarlet fever.

Figures released by the Public Health England organisation say that, in the East Midlands, the number more than doubled for the period from last September to mid-February this year. A total of 351 cases were reported, compared to 146 for the same period in 2013/14.

It’s a similar story in the Mansfield and Ashfield area specifically where statistics reveal that 19 cases were reported from September to mid-February in 2014/15, compared to nine in 2013/14.

It’s the fastest rise for half a century, with cases in the East Midlands in just the first six weeks of 2015 shooting up from 56 last year to 135.

Scarlet fever is a highly contagious disease that is most common in children, but can also develop in adults of all ages. Symptoms include a sore throat, a fever and a sand-papery rash, accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

A spokesman for Public Health England said: “Steep increases are normal at this time of year. However, the numbers being reported are above what is typical.

“This might reflect heightened awareness and improved diagnosis. But the current high number of cases is of concern.” It also maintains a nationwide trend from last year when a total of 14,000 cases was the highest since the 1960s.

Dr Chris Kenny, director of public health for Nottinghamshire and Nottingham, said: “As with most areas of the country, we have seen an increase in the number of cases locally, although we are still talking about relatively low numbers.

“We are informing schools of the risk of infection and providing information they can circulate to parents. It is important to remember that scarlet fever is easily treated by antibiotics, and any further problems are unlikely.”