Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection brought about by the Streptococcus A group which is also responsible for strep throat. It was once a common ailment and capable of causing serious complications but it is now relatively rare.

The condition is called “scarlet fever” due to its distinctive red rash that is accompanied by fever and other flu-like symptoms. The infection often occurs with strep throat. The condition is quite common among children aged 5-18 years.

Similar with most infections, scarlet fever is transmitted from one individual to another via droplets of saliva and mucus. Individuals can acquire the condition by touching their mouth, eyes or nose after contact with an infected person or material.

Indications of scarlet fever

  • Headache
  • Body aches
    Scarlet fever

    The condition is managed using antibiotics along with adequate bed rest and other supportive care measures to minimize the pain and discomfort.

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • High fever
  • Sore, reddened throat
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Red rash with a texture strikingly resembling sandpaper
  • “Strawberry” tongue
  • White coating in the rear part of the throat

What are the causes?

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection brought about by the group A Streptococcus bacteria that infect the throat and nose. It is same bacteria responsible for causing strep throat that often occurs with the infection.

The condition is highly contagious and transmitted via contact with an infected individual. Take note that transmission occurs if exposed to droplets of saliva or mucus that might be airborne or from accidental exposure.

Risk factors

Various factors increase the risk for developing scarlet fever such as:

  • Exposure to an infected individual
  • Touching the nose, mouth or throat after contact with an infected individual
  • Residing in a community with reported outbreaks
  • Unable to wash hands after contact with the mucus or salivary droplets from an infected individual

Management

The treatment for scarlet fever is started once a diagnosis is confirmed. This requires a throat culture to be checked for the presence of Streptococcus group A bacteria.

The condition is managed using antibiotics along with adequate bed rest and other supportive care measures to minimize the pain and discomfort.

With antibiotics and supportive care, most cases resolve without any complications. Antibiotics specifically penicillin should be completed. In addition, pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given as well as those that lower fever.

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