Scarlet fever is a seasonal bacterial illness that is common at this time of year, mainly affects children, and is easily treated with antibiotics.

The latest report by Public Health England (PHE) shows that 6,316 cases of scarlet fever have been reported since mid-September 2018, compared to an average of 6,680 for the same period over the last 5 years. There were 409 cases reported for the most recent week (18 to 24 February 2019).

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness but it is highly infectious so PHE is advising parents to be on the lookout for symptoms, which include a sore throat, headache and fever with 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 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.