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Major Scarlet Fever Outbreak Strikes Britain, 'Hundreds of Children' Infected So Far

480 cases of 'old world' infection recorded across England and Wales this week

 on 8th December 2019 @ 12.00pm
480 children have been infected with scarlet fever in the past week © press
480 children have been infected with scarlet fever in the past week

British medical professionals are battling to contain a major outbreak of scarlet fever, as hundreds of cases of the "old world" disease have been recorded across England and Wales in the past week.

Officials are reporting a large spike in children falling ill with the infection, with a staggering 480 cases recorded just this week.

The Victorian-era infectious disease is largely a childhood affliction and mostly infests kids aged between two and eight. 

The historically dangerous illness is far less serious in the modern-day as the disease can be treated with antibiotics. 

Scarlet fever is typically characterized by a bright red rash and a sore throat, yet cases of scarlet fever are in far fewer numbers in Britain in recent decades as modern medicine keeps the illness under control.

Despite this, hundreds of new cases of the infectious disease have been reported across England and Wales in recent weeks, according to the Mirror.

scarlet fever is typically characterized by a bright red rash and a sore throat © press
Scarlet fever is typically characterized by a bright red rash and a sore throat

Some 480 cases of scarlet fever were recorded in the week ending December 1, according to health officials.

The highest number of recent cases were seen across the North West, with 105, Yorkshire and the Humber, with 53, and the East Midlands, where 59 cases were recorded.

Across London, 54 cases of scarlet fever have been recently diagnosed, with another 36 in outer London, according to health officials. 

Between 18 November and 24 November, some 419 cases were recorded nationwide.

This compares to 281 cases across England and Wales which were seen in the week ending November 3. 

It isn't unusual to see a spike in the number of recorded cases at this time of year as scarlet fever is seasonal, a Public Health England spokesman said.

Since 2014, the number of cases has risen significantly with between 15,000 and 30,000 diagnosed across England each year, Public Health England said. 

Health officials also previously recorded a significant rise from 2013, when 4,366 cases of scarlet fever were seen, to 17,829 three years later.

hundreds of children have been infected with victorian era illness © press
Hundreds of children have been infected with Victorian-era illness

Almost all cases of scarlet fever occur in those under 10, and the disease can be treated with a 10-day course of antibiotics.

Scarlet fever is a highly contagious affliction that is spread by close contact with someone already carrying the bacteria.

It can then take up to five days to develop symptoms after exposure.

These symptoms include a high temperature, usually of 38C or above, a sore throat and swollen neck glands.

A bright red rash typically develops a few days later. 

Last April, the British Medical Journal noted the rates of scarlet fever in England had reached the highest point for 50 years.

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