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Schools and nurseries warned over scarlet fever rise

Florence, four, with a scarlet fever rash on her face and back and a white tongue Image copyright Family photos
Image caption Florence, four, was diagnosed with scarlet fever in February

Nurseries and schools across Wales have been warned of an increase in reported cases of scarlet fever.

Health officials have received 476 notifications of the infectious disease in the first eight weeks of 2018, up from 295 for the same period last year.

Symptoms of the infection include a high temperature, pink-red rash, white or red patches on the tongue and sickness.

Public Health Wales said the rise in cases was part of a ongoing trend.

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Media captionEmma Rees’ four-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with scarlet fever

Scarlet fever, also called scarlatina, is not usually serious and can be treated with antibiotics. It is most common in young children, but can affect people of any age.

Florence, four, was diagnosed with scarlet fever in February.

Her mother Emma Rees, from Ogmore-by-Sea, Vale of Glamorgan, said when her daughter became unwell she was unsure what was wrong.

“She started vomiting and she was very sleepy, which is not like her at all.

“She had a rash on her back and it was looking red. Then I noticed her tongue was white.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Florence has now fully recovered, says her mother Emma Rees

“I looked up the symptoms and saw scarlet fever. The name rang a bell but I didn’t know anything about it.

“I got her to the doctor who said the white tongue was a sure sign.”

Florence was given a 10-day course of liquid antibiotics and within a day or two the rash disappeared and she became well again.

Mrs Rees also has a young baby and a two-year-old at home so was worried about it spreading.

“I washed all the bedding, thankfully they didn’t pick it up,” she said.

Three-year-old Riley also recently recovered from scarlet fever.

His mother Kelly-Ann McNally from St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, said they had just returned home after playing in February’s snow when she noticed something was not right.

“He was bright red with a rash. He also had a strawberry-looking tongue. He was very clingy and he’s not normally like that.”

It was a Saturday so she rang the out-of-hours GP and was told to keep giving him fluids and that it sounded like a viral infection.

But by Monday he was no better so she took him to the GP who diagnosed scarlet fever.

“I had never heard of it,” she said.

“My friend had said she thought it could have been that so before we went to the doctor’s I Googled it and he had the symptoms like the rash. “

She said he was now fine, adding: “He’s running round everywhere again.”

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Riley, three, was diagnosed with scarlet fever and recovered quickly following antibiotics

Dr Christopher Williams, consultant epidemiologist at Public Health Wales, said: “A higher number of scarlet fever cases have been reported to Public Health Wales so far this year than in the same period in 2017, but this rise is in line with trends we have seen over the past few years in Wales.

“We have written to schools and nurseries across Wales to advise them of the signs and symptoms of the infection, as it is highly infectious and can lead to outbreaks in young children.”

He said parents who were concerned their child may have scarlet fever should speak to their GP for advice or contact NHS Direct Wales.

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