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Pharmacists and parents urged to be vigilant over scarlet fever

Monday 16th April 2018
Cases of scarlet fever are currently on the rise in the UK, and pharmacists need to be vigilant. Image: frank600 via iStock
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Pharmacists, parents and carers are being urged to be vigilant with regard to scarlet fever, as cases of the disease are currently on the rise in the UK.

Scarlet fever is a highly contagious illness that is characterised by a distinctive pink or red rash that has a sandpaper-like feel, as well as a sore throat, fever and headache.

Complications such as pneumonia can arise if antibiotic treatment is not administered promptly, so it is vital that signs of the disease are spotted as early as possible.

Pharmacists should know how to identify the condition, and should advise that children suffering from scarlet fever are kept at home until at least 24 hours after taking their first antibiotics.

Public Health England's (PHE's) latest Health Protection Report, published on March 9th 2018, showed that 11,982 cases of scarlet fever have been reported in the UK since the middle of September last year. This marks a significant increase in comparison to the past five years, when an average of 4,480 cases have typically been recorded at this time of year.

The public and pharmacists alike are therefore being urged to be on high alert to spot cases of scarlet fever early to help get patients the treatment they need and prevent the disease from spreading further.

Healthcare professionals have also been asked to promptly inform local health protection teams of any scarlet fever outbreaks they are made aware of.

Nick Phin, deputy director at PHE, explained "we are monitoring the situation closely", but that everyone needs to do their bit to spot potential symptoms to help prevent the further spread of the illness.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, added: "Scarlet fever used to be a lot more common than it is now, but GPs are noticing more cases than in previous years at the moment.

"If a patient thinks that they, or their child, might have symptoms, they should seek medical assistance."

Written by James Puckle

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