Warning after scarlet fever outbreak in South Yorkshire - here's what you need to know about the disease

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Parents have been urged to be aware of the signs after an outbreak of scarlet fever was reported in South Yorkshire.

Barnsley 0-19 Public Health Nursing Service announced yesterday that a ‘local’ primary school and nursery in Barnsley had confirmed an outbreak of the disease.

The service, which did not reveal the name or location of the primary school and nursery, issued the following advice to parents on how to spot symptoms of the highly contagious disease and what to do if they suspect their child is infected:

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The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature of 38C or above, a sore throat and swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck)

A scarlet fever rash (pic: NHS)A scarlet fever rash (pic: NHS)
A scarlet fever rash (pic: NHS)

A rash appears a few days later. A pink-red rash comes out, which feels like sandpaper and looks like sunburn. It starts on the chest and tummy. The rash does not appear on the face, but the cheeks can be flushed

A white coating also appears on the tongue. This peels, leaving it red and swollen (‘strawberry tongue’)

Seek medical advice if you believe your child may have scarlet fever. However, it is very infectious and you should check with a GP before you go in. They may suggest a phone consultation. If you cannot get a GP consultation you can contact the iheart service on 01226242419 or 111.

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Scarlet fever mostly affects young children and is easily treated with antibiotics, according to the NHS.

It advises patients to keep taking any antibiotics they have been prescribed until the course is finished, even if they feel better.

It says people can help relieve symptoms by drinking cool fluids, eating soft foods if they have a sore throat, taking painkillers like paracetamol to bring down a temperature (do not give aspirin to children under 16) and using calamine lotion or antihistamine tablets to stop itching.

Scarlet fever typically lasts for around a week and patients are infectious from up to seven days before the symptoms start until 24 hours after taking the first antibiotic tablets. People who do not take antibiotics can be infectious for two to three weeks after symptoms start.

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Children with scarlet fever should stay off nursery or school for 24 hours after starting antibiotics or, if not on antibiotics, until their fever is gone.

Scarlet fever was a serious illness in the past but antibiotics mean it’s now less common and easier to treat, though cases have increased in recent years.

To reduce the risk of spreading the disease, you can:

Wash hands often with soap and warm water

Use tissues to trap germs from coughs or sneezes

Bin used tissues as quickly as possible

AVOID sharing cutlery, cups, towels, clothes, bedding or baths.