Fears of scarlet fever outbreak after 14 cases reported in a week
- Credit: Laura Hutton
A mother from Bury St Edmunds whose son caught scarlet fever is backing a call for parents to be on the look out for the condition after an outbreak of 14 cases in Suffolk and Essex in just one week.
Laura Hutton was speaking after her son Kylan Downey, now aged eight, caught the highly contagious infection four years ago.
It is caused by bacteria and has been on the rise since 2014. In the week leading up to December 4, four cases were reported in Suffolk; two in the Forest Heath area of west Suffolk, one in Ipswich and one in Mid Suffolk. This is a 75% increase on the same week last year.
The number was even greater in Essex - 10 cases were reported in the same week.
Ms Hutton said Kylan first showed symptoms after going to a friend's birthday party, beginning with a high fever, tiredness, loss of appetite and a white tongue and extremely red cheeks.
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"We suspected scarlet fever due to the children being together at the party, and it is extremely contagious," she said.
Their GP confirmed it to be scarlet fever and Kylan was treated with antibiotics and a week off school, and Ms Hutton said it was a worrying time.
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"We were fairly worried, as any parent would be when their child is sick but as he didn't have the 'well-known' rash that usually accompanies scarlet fever we wanted to make sure of a correctm diagnosis and treatment.
"I was also nine months pregnant so wasn't sure if I or my unborn baby was at risk."
Ms Hutton advised parents worried their child might have the condition to check for a high temperature, if they were feeling unwell, flushed or red cheeks, white tonge or a rash.
In the East of England 43 cases of scarlet fever were reported in seven days, compared to just 18 across during the first week of December 2018.
All medical practitioners in England and Wales have to notify their local authority when they come across suspected cases of certain infectious diseases; one of these is scarlet fever.
According to Public Health England (PHE) the condition is most common in the winter and spring. The infection is treated with antibiotics.
What are the signs of scarlet fever?
- Flu like symptoms including a high temperature of 38C of above as well as a sore throat and swollen neck glands
- A pink or red rash that feels like sandpaper
- A white coating on the tongue. It peels and leaves it red and swollen
- Cheeks can be flushed