CASES of scarlet fever are continuing to rise, new figures have revealed.
Public Health England has described the increase as extraordinary with confirmed incidences of the once dangerous bacterial illness now standing at 20 in Warwickshire – compared to just seven two weeks ago.
Across the whole of the West Midlands region the figure has doubled in past fortnight to 530. In the whole of 2013 there were 480 cases.
Nationally there has now been 7,198 confirmed cases since September – almost double the previous highest back in 1989/90 – with last week seeing the most amount of cases reported in a seven day period since 1982.
Although it is still not being considered an epidemic health chiefs have urged vigilance and hope the Easter school holidays will see cases drop off with most so far being among four-year-olds.
Scarlet Fever was once a very dangerous infection, but has now become much less serious.
Symptoms include a high temperature and a red rash, sore throat, headache, swollen neck glands, peeling skin on fingertips and toes and a white coating on the tongue.
There is currently no vaccine, but it can be treated with antibiotics.
Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: “As scarlet fever cases continue to increase, PHE are working closely with healthcare professionals to assess the impact on the frequency of complications. We have a system in place to obtain a sample of strains from across the country to assess whether a new strain may have emerged.
“While we hope the Easter school break will assist in breaking the chains of transmission in schools, reducing numbers of cases, we cannot assume or rely on this being the case. As such, our investigations and assessment of the impact of this extraordinary rise in scarlet fever continue.”