Information about Scarlet Fever and Group A Strep

Dear parents and carers

We know that some of you may be concerned about the reports about scarlet fever and Group A Strep (GAS) in the news. We want you to know that we are taking advice in our schools about how to reduce the risks of transmission and what to do if we had a suspected outbreak. Much of the advice is what we do already, such as regular handwashing and sanitising, so our current measures are suitable for what is required.

Signs and symptoms of scarlet fever

  • Parents and carers  should look out for early symptoms of scarlet fever in children which include sore throats, headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting.
  • After 12 to 48 hours the characteristic red, pinhead rash develops, typically first appearing on the chest and stomach and then rapidly spreading to other parts of the body giving the skin a sandpaper-like texture.
  • The scarlet rash may be harder to spot on darker skin, although the ‘sandpaper’ feel should be present.
  • Children will also typically have flushed cheeks and pallor around the mouth, which may be accompanied by a ‘strawberry tongue’.
  • Parents should contact NHS 111 online, or call NHS 111 or their GP if they suspect their child has scarlet fever, because early treatment with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications, such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection.
  • GAS is spread by close contact with an infected person and can be passed on through coughs and sneezes or from a wound.
  • Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. By teaching your child how to wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up or spreading infections. We still support our children with these measures, please do the same before they leave home and when they come home.
  • Any children with suspected scarlet fever should stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others

Currently, there is no evidence that a new strain is circulating. The increase is most likely related to high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing.

There are lots of viruses that cause sore throats, colds and coughs circulating. These should resolve without medical intervention. However, children can on occasion develop a bacterial infection on top of a virus and that can make them more unwell.

As a parent, if you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement. Contact NHS 111 or your GP if:

  • your child is getting worse
  • your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39°C or higher
  • your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • your child is very tired or irritable

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • there are pauses when your child breathes
  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake

As always, if you have any concerns about an illness such as these in your child, please do contact your GP or 111 without delay.

We will always keep you updated with any information you need to know and our priority is ensuring we follow all advice given to keep our children as safe as possible.

Please ensure you inform us if your child has suspected or confirmed scarlet fever or a strep A infection so we can be aware of any infections in our schools and act accordingly.

You can read more on the NHS website

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/scarlet-fever/

Or the Government website

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scarlet-fever-symptoms-diagnosis-treatment

Or the NHS about if my child is too ill for school

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/is-my-child-too-ill-for-school/