Scarlet fever cases in UK more than double previous estimate | Health | Daily News Byte

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According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the number of reported scarlet fever cases in the UK over the autumn and winter season has more than doubled due to new confirmed infections.

Officials say another 9,945 have been added to those reported between September 12 and December 11, due to the volume of infections since November.

The additional reported infections mean the number of confirmed cases for the period, 17,695, is 128% higher than previously thought. These are only infections that have been confirmed by tests done by doctors. This is significantly higher than the 2,538 at the same point in 2017 and 2018, the last time the figures were comparatively higher.

UKHSA said that a week later, between December 11 and December 18, another 9,482 scarlet fever infections were reported to the agency, bringing them to 27,177.

That means the total is now higher than in 2017 and 2018, with another two weeks’ worth of reports to be published by the government.

The UKHSA said the increase in cases was “taking longer to appear in our published data after notifications of scarlet fever cases have been processed”.

A total of 16 children under the age of 18 have died from invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS), otherwise known as strep A.

The bacteria cause scarlet fever, which can then develop into a more serious invasive infection.

Scarlet fever can cause flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, sore throat, and swelling of the glands in the neck, which can appear as a large lump on the side of the neck.

The rash appears 12 to 48 hours later.

Parents are advised to contact 111 or a GP surgery if a child has symptoms. It may also include nausea and vomiting.

New severe shortage protocols were issued to pharmacists last week in an effort to help those experiencing supply problems with penicillin.

Chemists widely reported problems in getting hold of liquid penicillin and amoxicillin due to increased demand. Children who have scarlet fever or strep A are often prescribed antibiotics. Industry people have also noticed the increase in prices.

Pharmacists can now prescribe an alternative antibiotic or formulation of penicillin, such as tablets.

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