Scarlet fever warning in Cheshire West and Chester

29 April 2022

Parents in Cheshire West and Chester are warned to look out for symptoms of scarlet fever following a rise of cases in the region.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Public Health team are issuing advice following a warning from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) that the north west has the highest infection rate in England.

A total of 914 notifications of scarlet fever were reported between September 2021 and March 2022 in the north west.

This is in line with what is expected at this time of year but an increase compared to 2021 when measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including school and nursery closures, helped to keep cases below average.

Scarlet fever is caused by a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus. It is usually a mild illness, but is highly infectious, spread by coughing and sneezing. 

Other rare symptoms of Group A Streptococcus infection can include septicaemia (infection in the blood) which can potentially be fatal. 

In particular, the other rare symptoms can arise when scarlet fever circulates at the same time as other skin infections such as chickenpox in a school or nursery, as is currently the case. 

Symptoms of scarlet fever include:
  • a sore throat
  • headache 
  • fever 
  • a characteristic fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel.
If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, it is important to contact your local GP or NHS 111. 

Early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important as it helps reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and the spread of the infection to others. 

Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

Cllr Val Armstrong, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said:

“Scarlet fever is not usually serious but it is important to be on the lookout for symptoms so that you can get the treatment you need for your family as soon as possible.

“Good hygiene can also help to limit the spread of this highly contagious illness – wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap, don’t share drinking glasses or utensils and always cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze – measures we’re all well used to.”

For further information on scarlet fever visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/scarlet-fever/.

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