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Nasty Infectious Diseases You Want To Avoid - Scarlet Fever

Updated on December 31, 2008

This is an infectious bacterial childhood disease characterized by a skin rash, sore throat, and fever. It is less common and caused by a toxin released by the bacteria. dangerous than it was years ago. No longer a reportable disease, experts don't know for sure how many cases occur today in the United States, although it is believed that the disease has been on the increase for the past several years.

With the spread of streptococcus infections around the world has come more cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by infection with group A streptococcus, according to the World Health Organization. Scarlet fever strains of group A strep produce toxins that sandpaper, and is quite distinctive. are released in the skin, causing a bright red rash.

In the past, the disease was associated with poor living conditions. In 1737, a scarlet fever epidemic in Boston killed 900 people while another epidemic in New York City in the late 1800s killed 35 percent of children who contracted the disease.

Inexplicably, by the 1920s the death rate of the disease dropped to 5 percent for reasons that are still not completely understood. It is believed that the scarlet fever bacteria underwent a natural mutation that made it less of a killer. The introduction of penicillin reduced the death rate even more.

Today, most cases are found among residents of middle-class suburbs, not in the inner school. cities. Because it is possible to get strep and scarlet fever more than once, and because the incidence of all strep infections is rising, prompt medical attention when strep is suspected is important. A patient with a sore throat and skin rash should seek medical care. cutaneous schistosomiasis Anyone can develop scarlet fever, but most cases are found among children aged four to eight.

Cause - Scarlet fever bacteria are spread in droplets during coughing or breathing or by sharing food and drink. When bacterial particles are released into the air, they can be picked up by others close by. The hallmark rash is caused by a toxin released by the bacteria.

Symptoms - After an incubation period of two to four days, the first sign of illness is usually a fever of 103 to 104 degrees F, accompanied by a severe sore throat. The face is flushed and the tongue develops a white coating with red spots, rather like a white strawberry. The child may seem tired and flushed; 12 to 18 hours after the fever, a rash appears as a mass of rapidly spreading tiny red spots on the neck and upper trunk. The scarlet fever rash is unique in that it feels rough, like fine sandpaper, and is quite distinctive. Other common symptoms include headache, chills and vomiting, and tiny white lines around the mouth, as well as fine red striations in the creases of elbows and groin. After a few days, the tongue coating peels off, followed by a drop in fever and a fading rash.

Complications - As with other types of sore throat caused by the streptococci bacteria, untreated infection carries the risk of immunologic disorders, such as rheumatic fever or glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidneys),

Treatment - A 10-day course of antibiotics (usually penicillin or erythromycin), with rest, liquids, and acetaminophen. Children are contagious for a day or two after they begin treatment, but after that they can return to school.


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      Robert Kern MD 3 years ago

      Looks to me like KD ( Kawasakis Disease )

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      Brian Saracini 7 years ago

      any information on the epidemics that hit Toronto region in the 1800's

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      The Toylanders 8 years ago

      Very Interesting topic, espeically since I've written an article on strep myself (Group A) that augments your article, beta hemalytic strep can cause quite a bit of harm. And these infections should invariably be diagnosed and treated, scarlet fever is one manifestion of strep, but there are other consequences from "strep throat" group A types...absent the symptoms of scarlet fever, which are minimized and ignored in countries that have flaling health care systems. The danger lies in calling the symptoms viral, or using worries of "resistence" to avoid treating. The plain fact is...there are some bacteria we are at perpetual war with...and we need to stay one step ahead of them. Thanks for your article.