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Scarlet Fever and Group A Strep | An Update

You may have seen the recent news reports about the national rise in cases of Group A Strep above the levels usually seen at this time of year. Group A Streptococcus (GAS) usually causes mild illness such as Scarlet Fever but can, in very rare cases the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive group A strep (iGAS).

Scarlet Fever is not usually serious but should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications. Symptoms include: sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12 to 48 hours, the characteristic red, pinhead rash develops, giving the skin a sandpaper-like texture.

If you think you, or your child, might have scarlet fever:

  • contact your GP or NHS 111 as soon as possible
  • make sure that you or your child take(s) the full course of any antibiotics prescribed. Although you or your child will feel better soon after starting the course of antibiotics, you must complete the course to ensure that you do not carry the bacteria in your throat after you have recovered
  • stay at home, away from nursery, school or work for at least 24 hours after starting the antibiotic treatment, to avoid spreading the infection

Contact NHS 111 or your GP if:

  • your child is getting worse
  • your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher
  • your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • your child is very tired or irritable

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • there are pauses when your child breathes
  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake

For more information go to:

The NHS have also provided guidance on recognising a scarlet fever rash on different skin tones.