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You are watching: How common is scarlet fever today


It mainly affects children. Left untreated, it can sometimes cause severe complications.

In the past, it was a serious childhood illness, but contemporary antibiotics have made it lot rarer and also less threatening.

However, occasional and far-ranging outbreaks tho occur.

Children aged 5 come 15 years have actually a higher risk of arising scarlet fever than other age groups. Roughly 80 percent of instances occur in kids under 10 years.


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Share top top PinterestScarlet heat can cause a distinctive rash, amongst other symptoms. Photo credit: Estreya, 2007.
Scarlet fever is brought about by a toxin exit by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes (S. Pyrogenes), the exact same organism that reasons strep throat.

A tiny percentage of patients through strep infections, such together strep throat or impetigo, develop scarlet fever.

Another term, scarlatina is frequently used interchangeably with scarlet fever, yet scarlatina an ext commonly refers to a much less acute form.

Early treatment with antibiotics deserve to prevent complications.


Signs and also symptoms usually appear about 1 to 4 days after early infection. The very first symptoms that scarlet fever room usually:

a red, ill throat, occasionally with white or yellowish patchesa fever of 101 Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius) or higher, generally with chills.

A rash appears 12 to 48 hrs after these very first symptoms.

Red blotches appear on the skin. These turn right into a fine pink-red rash that looks choose sunburn. The skin feels rough as soon as touched, choose sandpaper.

The rash diffusion to the ears, neck, elbows, inner thighs and groin, chest, and other components of the body.

It does no usually show up on the face, however the patient’s cheeks will come to be flushed, and the area roughly the mouth i do not care pale.

If a glass is pressed top top the skin, the rashes will revolve white.

After around 6 days, the rash typically fades. In milder cases, the rash may be the just symptom.

Other possible symptoms include:

difficulty swallowingfeeling unwellitchingnausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal muscle painbroken blood vessels in the wrinkle of the body, because that example, the armpits, groin, elbows, knees, and neck, known as Pastia’s linesswollen neck glands, or lymph nodes, that space tender to the toucha white coating creates on the tongue that peels away, leaving a red and also swollen “strawberry” tongue

If major muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea occur, the physician will need to rule out other possible causes, together as toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

The skin of the hands and also feet will peel for approximately 6 weeks after ~ the rash has actually gone.


Scarlet heat is pass on with fluids from the mouth and nose. Once a person with scarlet heat coughs or sneezes, the bacteria come to be airborne in droplets that water.

Another person can catch it by inhaling this droplets or by emotional something the droplets land on, such as a door handle, and also then emotional the nose and also mouth.

Touching the skin that a person with a streptococcal skin infection can also spread infection. Share towels, baths, clothes, or bed linen with an infected human being increases the risk.

A human with scarlet fever that is no treated might be contagious for several weeks, also after symptoms have gone.

Some people do no react come the toxin. They can carry and also pass ~ above the epidemic without showing any kind of symptoms. Only those that react to the toxin will build symptoms.

This provides it difficult for someone to understand if they have actually been exposed.

Less commonly, infection may take place through poignant or spend contaminated food, especially milk.

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The bacteria deserve to spread much more easily amongst people in close contact, for instance at school, home, or work.