I was always fascinated with the Victorian era when I was at school. There’s no shortage of gruesome stories from that period to satisfy any morbid curiosity – like the terrifying outbreak of scarlet fever. It was one of the most feared Victorian diseases, with around 100,000 cases and 20,000 deaths.
When I was growing up, I read all about the outbreak and felt seriously lucky that I was safe from those old fashioned diseases.
However, it turns out that this Victorian disease hasn’t been completely left in the past.
Researchers are reporting 6,157 new cases since September this year, and they have no idea why the disease is making a comeback.
Children under the age of 10 are the most at risk, accounting for 80 percent of the reported cases.
Read on to learn what symptoms to look out for.
Health experts are warning parents to be aware of the symptoms of scarlet fever after a record number of cases have hit children. The number of cases has hit a 50 year high, with 6,157 cases being reported in elementary schools in Britain.
“We don’t have an answer at the moment”
Health worker are unsure of the reason why the Victorian disease has made a comeback, however researcher in the US have linked it to an agressive strain of bacteria that is super-resistant to antibiotics.
Dr Theresa Lamagni, an epidemiologist for Public Health England, has studied the bacteria from people infected with the disease. She explains that the bacteria didn’t give any answers to why the infection is on the rise.
“We were really pinning our hopes on those, (but) the strains didn’t give us the answer,” she tells Stat News. “We’re left thinking what on earth it can be. We don’t have an answer at the moment.”
In the 1800s, there were around 100 000 cases of scarlet fever and the disease caused 20 000 deaths.
Fortunately, today the bacteria can be treated by antibiotics and doesn’t last longer than 10 days.
What to look out for
Early signs of the infection include a sore throat or skin infection, reports The Sun.
Other signs include:
- High fever
- Red rash
- Itchy skin
- Stomach pain
- Swollen neck glands
- A white coating on the tongue
Scarlet fever is extremely contagious, so it’s important to keep your child at home until 24 hours after their symptoms have disappeared, reports Go Do The Right Thing. They should avoid friends and siblings while they are infected and you should also seperate the cutlery they use and their toothbrush from the rest of the family.
Scarlet fever is normally treated with a ten-day treatment of antibiotics. It’s important that your child finishes the whole course of medication, even if they start to feel better.
Thank goodness for modern medicine! Luckily the consequences of contracting scarlet fever today are minor, and the treatment is straight forward.
But it’s still important to be vigilant. Please help us share this article so that other parents know what to look out for, so they can treat their child ASAP!