Scarlet fever alert

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WIGAN medics are on alert after a spike in reported cases of a rare infectious disease.

Cases of scarlet fever in youngsters across the borough have been on the rise in recent weeks with public health officials confirming “increased activity”.

And residents are being urged to immediately take children to their family GP if they start to display symptoms.

Scarlet fever – which is now a rare occurrence in the UK – is a seasonal bacterial infection which can cause a bright red rash, high temperatures and sore throat.

Dr Paul Turner, consultant in Public Health at Wigan Council, said: “Since the peak last season levels of scarlet fever have remained elevated in the borough, this may reflect heightened awareness and improved diagnosis or notification practices.

“We are not aware of any specific outbreaks in schools, just isolated cases. If your child shows the symptoms of scarlet fever including a swollen throat, bright red rash and high temperature you should firstly take them to their GP.

“Treatment for scarlet fever is through a course of antibiotics.”

Before the advent of antibiotics, scarlet fever was a major cause of death.

The borough’s public health team said six cases have been reported although it is thought the number of children catching the ailment could be many more.

Scarlet fever, also known as scarletina, usually affects the back of the mouth and throat but can affect the skin.

Flare-ups are usual in the late winter and spring time. The early signs include a sore throat, headache and fever with a sand-papery rash with a red tinge appearing on the chest and stomach but then spreading to other parts of the body.

It has an incubation period of two to five days and symptoms are usually a sore throat and swelling of the glands in the neck.

Those suffering from the ailment are advised to stay away from school or the workplace for at least five days.