Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a common bacteria, which causes a range of infections including scarlet fever. These infections are usually mild.
GAS can also cause a rare, more serious infection called invasive group A strep (iGAS). This occurs when GAS bacteria get into parts of the body such as the lungs or bloodstream, where they cause serious disease. iGAS is a form of sepsis and you should take immediate action by calling 999 if your child shows any of the symptoms listed under the ‘Call 999 or go to A&E’ section below.
Scarlet fever is an illness that mainly affects children. We are used to seeing cases in the Spring, what we are seeing at the moment is unseasonably higher cases for this time of year. it usually follows a sore throat or a skin infection, such as impetigo, caused by particular strains of streptococcus bacteria. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever so that early treatment with antibiotics can be given quickly:
Contact NHS 111 or your GP if you suspect your child has scarlet fever, because early treatment with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications, such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection.
If your child has scarlet fever, keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
As a parent, if you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement.
GAS is spread by close contact with an infected person and can be passed on through coughs and sneezes or from a wound.
Good hygiene practice such as hand washing remains the most important step in preventing and controlling spread of infection.
A negative throat swab is not required for children to attend childcare, however children and adults with suspected scarlet fever should be excluded from nursery / school / work for 24 hours after the commencement of appropriate antibiotic treatment.