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Scarlet fever
Photograph: Shutterstock

This grim Victorian disease is surging – here are the symptoms to look out for

The illness mostly affects children under ten

Written by
Faima Bakar

A fever that was commonplace in Victorian times is doing the rounds, predominantly affecting children under ten. Cases of scarlet fever have risen and are higher than expected at this time of year. 

The bacterial infection can affect anyone but is most common among kids, giving them flu-like symptoms as well as a distinctive rash which appears 12 to 48 hours later.

Parents or anyone else worried about the condition should look out for symptoms including a high temperature, sore throat and sickness. They should also look out for swollen glands in the neck and a rash that spreads from the chest and tummy, giving a rough sandpaper-like surface.

The rash can also affect the tongue which can go from a white coating to small red bumps appearing on the surface. The signs of scarlet fever are the same for both adults and children.

Dr Naveen Puri, of Bupa Health Clinics, said: ‘It is contagious and passed through coughing, sneezing or close contact, sharing bath towels, clothes, bed sheets or cutlery with the infected person.

‘If your child has scarlet fever, keep them out of school and away from other people.’

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