According to recent news reports and data from Public Health England cases of Scarlet Fever reported in the last few months have exceeded what they would expect to be a ‘normal’ amount. So, not wanting to break her commitment to contracting every childhood illness possibly Joni now has it. I was fairly convinced it had gone with the Victorians, with images of Beth from Little Women contracting the illness and it permanently damaging her health and causing her premature death. Uplifting picture, isn’t it? Joni was actually ill over the weekend and we thought it could be a recurrence of chicken pox (which can also happen, I’ve learned so much this week!), a particularly unhelpful nurse suggested it could be insect bites – because, you know, we live in the AMAZON and there are loads of insects that literally cover 3 year old’s bodies with bites. In March. In south east England. Ridiculous.
The GP we saw was a lot more helpful and, after some thought, called me to tell me it was likely to be Scarlet Fever and a strong course of antibiotics would do the trick to clear it up.
For official medical advice, obviously consult your own doctor or at the very least read this. For what its worth here is our experience:
- The child will have a high temperature (fever, get it?) and might have a headache and sore throat too – then a couple of days later the rash develops.
- The rash can appear all over the body but usually doesn’t spread to the face, although the childs face might be flushed and red (scarlet!) The rash looks angry and red too.
- Other symptoms can include a strange coating on the tongue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and feeling unwell . Or in Joni’s case – being really naughty and bad tempered for a few days. She has also been incredibly tired for a couple of weeks so I have my suspicions that harboring all these germs might be the reason for that too.
- The rash can be itchy, in Joni’s case it was and she scratched some of it until the skin broke – which made it look a little bit like chicken pox with some blisters forming. Antihistamine, chicken pox cooling gel like this one have really helped her stop scratching. Obviously paracetamol and ibuprofen have been our friends too, especially to treat fever and headache. Our GP recommended this treatment to us, go to yours for advice for your child.
- The key – if you suspect your child has Scarlet Fever – is to go to the GP, they can diagnose by looking at the rash and hearing the symptoms and will prescribe antibiotics. They’ll also want to take a swab from the child’s mouth to confirm the diagnosis.
- A 7-10 day course of antibiotics should clear up the illness with no further complications so we can all be eternally grateful to Alexander Fleming for ever more – antibiotics mean that children do not die of this illness (and many more!) and it is classed as ‘mild’.
- Once your child has been taking antibiotics for 24 hours they can be around other children again – although they might not feel up to it.
- Scarlet Fever is incredibly contagious – bleach and the washing machine will be my best friends today as I clean everything in sight. Although, it is likely that other children in the household will get it, especially as it is contagious before symptoms appear. Children are most likely to contract it if they are between around 2 and 10 years old (before that they have some of their mothers immunity and after that they will have developed resistance to the bugs, or so I think I have worked out from various public health websites). Obviously like all things there are exceptions to these rules and I am now hoping that in our case the exception isn’t me or my lovely friend who came round yesterday who is getting married on Sunday. Fingers crossed.
Let’s hope Scarlet Fever’s unfashionable come back is the last of those nasty Victorian illnesses to rear its ugly head … Smallpox? Cholera? No thanks.