Scarlet fever rise is part of ‘cycle’

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breaking news

Scarlet fever cases in Derbyshire have more than quadrupled, as health chiefs warn people not to panic over the outbreak.

The number of patients diagnosed with the infection across the county during the first 12 weeks of this year was 158 - compared to just 36 in the first 12 weeks of 2013.

However, Public Health England (PHE) has said the increase could be due to seasonal rises and a cycle of increases and decreases which repeats itself over a period of several years.

In a statement, spokesman for PHE said: “This most recent increase is likely to be part of that cycle.

“Routine monitoring of surveillance data identified widespread increases in scarlet fever notifications in February 2014 compared to recent years. These increases continued into March, with weeks 10 and 11 of 2014 being particularly high with numbers of notifications surpassing levels seen in the last peak year of 2008 and 2009. As a result of this increase in scarlet fever, PHE is alerting health practitioners so they can be mindful of the current increase when assessing patients.”

The first symptoms often include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Between 12 to 48 hours after this, a characteristic rash develops. Cases are more common in children although adults can also develop scarlet fever. Symptoms usually clear up after a week and the majority of cases can be treated with a course of antibiotics to reduce risk of complications.

In the East Midlands, there have been 503 cases of scarlet fever since the beginning of January – compared with 87 in the same period last year.