Parents and carers asked to watch for signs of scarlet fever

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Parents and carers are being asked to watch for signs of scarlet fever in children following a small cluster of cases on the Island.

Nine children with a fever have been sent home by a local nursery since Wednesday 30 November, with a small number of these children later diagnosed with scarlet fever.

Scarlet fever is a highly contagious bacterial infection that mostly affects young children.  It is usually mild and easily treated with antibiotics.  The most common symptoms are:

  • sore throat and swollen neck glands
  • headache
  • fever
  • nausea and vomiting
  • a rash of small red bumps may also appear 12 to 48 hours later on the chest and abdomen, which then spreads.

Parents who are concerned that their child or they themselves might have scarlet fever should contact their GP for advice and stay at home. Please note that all GP Practices will be closed on the afternoon of Thursday 8 December for essential training.  Anyone who needs to urgently see a GP during this time should contact Manx Emergency Doctors Service (MEDS) on +44 1624 650355.

Anyone with a deteriorating condition who has developed more than one the following symptoms and is concerned should seek medical help through their GP, MEDS, the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Ramsey Cottage Hospital or the Emergency Department at Noble’s Hospital:

  • high fever
  • severe muscle aches
  • pain in one area of the body
  • unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea.

Action taken

Parents whose children are affected have been contacted and given advice on treatment and how to prevent the infection from spreading.

The nursery has carried out additional cleaning and has increased handwashing.  Parents of children at the nursery have been provided with advice and told to keep their child at home if they develop a fever, which will help to prevent cases spreading.

The Island’s healthcare professionals have been alerted and provided with information and advice on scarlet fever and asked to remain vigilant.  Advice has also been issued to schools and nurseries.

Public Health is working in close collaboration with the nursery, Manx Care and the Department of Education, Sport and Culture to monitor the situation and will take further action, if required.

Interim Director of Public Health, Professor Hugo Van Woerden, said:

‘Scarlet fever is caused by the bacteria group A streptococcus or ‘Strep A’. The germ is present in the nose or throat of many people in a harmless form, but occasionally changes into a form that can cause disease.

‘Although scarlet fever spreads easily among children, it is important to note that it is usually mild, can be treated easily with antibiotics and very rarely results in serious illness.

‘If you live in the same household as someone with scarlet fever, you should contact your GP as soon as you develop symptoms so you can start the antibiotic treatment as quickly as possible. You can help stop the spread of infection through frequent handwashing and by not sharing utensils, clothing, bedding and towels.’

Further information on scarlet fever can be found on the NHS website.

Contact details for community and emergency care.

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