Parents warned of rise in cases of scarlet fever in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 10:39 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:39 12 December 2019
Parents have been urged to be alert amid a rise in cases of the highly contagious scarlet fever in Norfolk, including seven cases in one week.
Figures from Public Health England (PHE) show there has been an increase over the last fortnight in notifications compared to the same time last year.
In the first week of December, three cases were reported in Broadland and North Norfolk and one in Great Yarmouth.
As of Sunday (December 8), there have been a further notifications of the disease, one in King's Lynn and West Norfolk and Norwich. Last year there was one during the same period.
Scarlet fever is a contagious infection that mostly affects young children. It used to be highly dangerous but is now easily treated with antibiotics.
A Bury St Edmunds mother has called for parents to be on the look out for the condition after her son caught the disease four years ago.
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Laura Hutton's son Kylan Downey first showed signs after attending a friend's birthday party.
Ms Hutton said: "We were fairly worried, as any parent would be when their child is sick but as he didn't have the 'well-know' rash that usually accompanies scarlet fever we wanted to make sure of a correct diagnosis and treatment."
The NHS says first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, sore throat and swollen neck glands, as well as a rash, white coating on the tongue and flushed cheeks.
The East of England has seen a rise with 41 cases of scarlet fever reported in seven days, in comparison to 29 for the same period last year.
Public Health England (PHE) says there is not unexpected levels of scarlet fever, which commonly occurs during the winter months.
It is investigating possible reasons for why there has been a rise in scarlet fever cases over the last few years by studying the strains of bacteria causing disease and the spread of infection in different settings and patient groups.
Dr Theresa Lamagni, head of streptococcal surveillance at PHE, said: "To limit the spread of scarlet fever it is important to practice good hygiene by washing hands with warm water and soap, not sharing drinking glasses or utensils, and covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing."
Parents are urged if they become aware of symptoms to call their GP or NHS 111 for further advice or assessment.