Lichfield and Burntwood schools and nurseries to get scarlet fever advice

Schools and nurseries in Lichfield and Burntwood are to be given fresh advice in a bid to curb the growing number of scarlet fever cases across Staffordshire.

So far 12 cases have been reported in the Lichfield area, but last week saw more than 1,000 confirmed cases across the UK as levels of the illness reach their highest level for 30 years.

A typical scarlet fever rash. Pic: Alicia Williams

A typical scarlet fever rash. Pic: Alicia Williams

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet support member for public health, said: “The new guidelines are being issued to schools and nurseries  to help control the spread of infection if an outbreak occurs.

“This includes letters to parents and staff detailing what to look out for and the steps to take if scarlet fever is suspected,  together with a reminder of the importance of good hygiene practice.”

Scarlet fever is mainly a childhood disease and is most common between the ages of two and eight years – the average age of people affected this year is four.

Although once a very dangerous infection, it is now much less serious and can normally be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms often include a rash, sore throat, high temperature, swollen tongue and flushed cheeks.

Dr Alison Teale, Public Health Consultant with Staffordshire County Council, said: “Scarlet fever is a seasonal illness and Public Health England is investigating to see if there is an underlying cause for this unexpected sharp rise in cases.

“However, it is extremely contagious so can quickly spread in places like nurseries and schools so we are asking staff and parents to be on the lookout for symptoms such as the rash to help control any outbreaks.

“Anyone who thinks a child has scarlet fever should see their GP or contact NHS 111 as soon as possible and if diagnosed with the illness stay at home for at least 24 hours after  being prescribed antibiotics.”

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