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A Brif Look At Scarlet Fever

Updated on February 12, 2011

Scarlatina, more commonly known as scarlet fever is a disease caused by group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. This is the same bacterium that causes strep throat and tonsillitis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). The bacteria dwell within the mouth and nasal fluids. The streptococcus bacteria produce an exotoxin which causes a rash. The disease is transmitted through direct contact with an infected individual. It is passed when the ill person coughs or sneezes. Also sharing food and drinks can transmit the disease. 

Scarlet Fever is an acute infectious disease getting its name from the red rash which is present early in the illness. This rash is characterized by small red bumps and starts on the chest and stomach and may spread over the body. The onset of Scarlet Fever is sudden and consists of high fever, sore throat and at times nausea and vomiting. Within thirty-six hours of the initial symptoms the rash appears. The face is flush with a pale circle around the mouth. The tongue becomes strawberry like in appearance with a white coating causing the taste buds to appear larger. Within eight days the rash fades and the skin will begin to peal; this may continue for quite some time (McKnight, MD, 1968).

Scarlet Fever is treated through antibiotics, most commonly penicillin, amoxicillin, azithromycin, clarithromycin, or clindamycin. Early treatment can prevent complications such as kidney, blood, skin and middle ear infections (Mayo Clinic, 2009). While now easily treated Scarlet Fever was once a common and deadly childhood disease before the use of antibiotics was understood and practiced.

Reference List

McKnight, W.B. MD. (1968). The Home Medical Encyclopedia: A Guide To Health. Nashville:

The Southwestern Company.

Scarlet Fever. (2008, April 13). RetrievedJanuary 30, 2011, from

Scarlet Fever. (2009, April 4). Retrieved January 30, 2011, from

Scarlet Fever. (2010, May 9). Retrieved January 30, 2011, from


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    • lmmartin profile image


      7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Good info. I lost much of my hearing in a bout of scarlet fever at the age of 8. It is a very serious disease. We don't see it as much as we used to, but I understand it is making a slow comeback as Streptococcus is becoming more antibiotic immune. Lynda


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