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Scarlet fever warning for parents after eight children die in the UK – and the symptoms to look out

Australian parents warned of scarlet fever after eight children died in the UK – these are the symptoms to watch out for

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Australian parents are being warned to watch out for scarlet fever, but not be overly alarmed, following the deaths of at least eight children in the UK.

Scarlet fever, medically known as a group A strep infection, is a bacterium that causes infection and is surprisingly very common, but often does not cause serious illness.

The University of Queensland says it is on the rise worldwide, after it was nearly eradicated in the 1940s. It is not a notifiable disease in Australia.

Several kindergartens and schools in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs have sent notes home in recent weeks informing parents of their children’s possible exposure to the disease.

Camila Rose Burns Remains On A Ventilator At Alder Hey Children'S Hospital In Liverpool, England, After Contracting Strep A

Camila Rose Burns remains on a ventilator at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, after contracting Strep A

Melbourne mum Tara couldn’t believe it when her 3-year-old son Eli was diagnosed with scarlet fever last week.

She said it started with what looked like mosquito bites on her face that spread over her body, which the doctor diagnosed as a viral rash.

As his condition deteriorated, Tara took him to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, where he was diagnosed with scarlet fever.

“The only time I heard about scarlet fever was in the movie Little Women, where one of the sisters gets it and dies, so that was my first thought,” Tara said.

“But obviously the doctor wasn’t worried and said I should start wearing off over the weekend with some antibiotics.”

After her diagnosis, Tara said she had spoken to other parents who had heard of other local children with the disease.

Another parent who received a note from her daughter’s kindergarten said she was feeling nervous considering the reported deaths in the UK.

Hanna Roap, 7, Died Of Strep A Within 24 Hours Of Infection

Hanna Roap, 7, Died Of Strep A Within 24 Hours Of Infection

Hanna Roap, 7, died of strep A within 24 hours of infection

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners spokesman Dr Bernard Shiu said there had been a small outbreak in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Dr Shiu said it was not unusual for clusters to occur in Australia.

“We will periodically get clusters of people diagnosed with scarlet fever because certain doctors will start testing when they know of other cases in the area and it is spreading in that community,” Dr. Shiu said.

“It’s pretty contagious. But that doesn’t mean it’s a major problem across the country.”

Dr. Shiu said it was worrying to see the news of numerous deaths from scarlet fever abroad, but said those who had died were affected by a rare and specific type of bacteria, different from the “garden variety” seen in Australia.

He said Australia on average would see around 2,000 cases of scarlet fever each year, a similar figure to the UK.

The best way to avoid infection, according to the Department of Health, is to maintain good hygiene.

Scarlet fever symptoms include throat swelling; a pink-red rash that spreads over the abdomen, side of the chest, and skin folds; the rash may feel like sandpaper when touched; a bright red tongue (known as ‘strawberry tongue’) and paleness around the mouth.

Source: Better Health Victoria

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Jacky

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