My last article, ”Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Hepatitis A“ we learned that Hepatitis A is a very contagious liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis A virus. This virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation of the liver which in turn impacts the ability of the liver to function. Hepatitis A is the most common type of hepatitis in children. It is found in the stool and blood of an infected individual.
Some ways of getting HAV is by eating food made by an infected person who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom, drinking water that is contaminated by infected feces, traveling to places where HAV is common, & getting your hands contaminated by an infected person and then putting your hands near or in your mouth.
Most cases of HAV don’t require treatment as most people who are infected recover in time on their own. The goal is to prevent from getting hepatitis A which can be done by a vaccination and following good hygiene practices. Today I would like to move onto another childhood illness called Scarlet Fever.
What Is Scarlet Fever?
Scarlet Fever, which is also known as Scarlatina, is a contagious infection caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat according to Children’s Hospital (http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/scarlet-fever) . If your child has strep throat, he/she may also develop scarlet fever which results in the child not feeling well and developing a “fine, sandpaper-like rash that consists of small, red bumps. Scarlet fever commonly occurs between the ages of 2 to 10.” It spreads with direct contact with another person who is infected. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. It is advisable for the child to stay home for 24 hours after beginning antibiotic treatments.
History of Scarlet Fever
According to Study (http://study.com/academy/lesson/history-origin-of-scarlet-fever.html) Hippocrates may have described scarlet-fever like symptoms back in the 4th century, while others claim that it was Rhazes, a Persian physician , who was the first person to positively identify scarlet fever in the 9th century. But the first definitive description of scarlet fever was done in 1553 by an Italian physician, Giovanni Ingrassia who named it Rossalia. In 1676 a British physician Thomas Sydenham labeled it febris scarlatina (Scarlet Fever). During this time, Scarlet Fever was rare and there were few epidemics in Europe’s larger cities.
Per Study everything changed in around the 1820s when Western Europe and the US were going through the Industrial Revolution. Cities became overcrowded and there was a growth in poor hygiene in low-income urban areas. The bacteria that caused scarlet fever thrived in this environment. According to history, fatality rates of scarlet fever rose in Great Britain from 2% in the late 18th century to 15% in 1834. When fatality rates rose to 30% in some cities, scarlet fever became one of the deadliest diseases of the mid-19th century. In 1860s Louis Pasteur claimed that microscopic organisms caused disease. This Germ theory changed everything regarding sanitary living and germ-killing process called Pasteurization.
What Causes Scarlet Fever?
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) (https://www.cdc.gov/dotw/scarletfever/index.html) Scarlet Fever is a bacterial infection caused by “group A Streptococcus or group A strep.” This group A strep also causes strep throat or skin infections.
What Are the Symptoms of Scarlet Fever?
Stanford Children’s (http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=scarlet-fever-90-P02544) stated the each child may experience the following symptoms differently:
- Sore throat
- Coated white tongue
- Strawberry-like appearance of the tongue
Per Stanford Children’s the rash begins about one to two days after the initial infection. This red, fine, sandpaper-like rash can be found on the neck, forehead, cheeks and chest and later may spread to the arms and the back. This rash generally starts to fade after two to seven days. Because rash can be found in many other medical problems it is highly recommended that you consult your child’s doctor for a diagnosis.
How Is Scarlet Fever Diagnosed?
The doctor can usually diagnosis Scarlet Fever by looking at the symptoms, especially the rash that the child presents. He/she will closely examine the child’s throat and glands. Usually a throat culture is performed to check for Streptococcus. This is done by a swab of the throat and tonsils. According to Health& (https://healthand.com/au/topic/general-report/scarlet-fever) the doctor may also get a blood sample to rule out other potential causes of the rash and sore throat.
Scarlet Fever Treatment
Scarlet fever is usually treated with antibiotics which kill the bacteria and help the body’s immune system fight off the bacteria causing the infection according to Health Line (https://www.healthline.com/health/scarlet-fever#treatment9). The doctor will instruct the parent to make sure that the child completes the entire course of the prescribed medication. This is to ensure that the infection will not return. He/she may also recommend over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen to control the fever.
Usually the child can return to school after they are on antibiotics for at least 24 hours and no longer has a fever. At present there are no vaccines for scarlet fever.
Scarlet Fever Home Management
First and foremost, scarlet fever needs to be treated with antibiotics. There is, however, things that can be done to help ease the symptoms and discomfort that occurs with scarlet fever. Here are some things you can do per Health Line:
- Drink warm teas or broth-based soups to help soothe your throat.
- Try soft foods or a liquid diet if eating is painful.
- Take OTC acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen to ease throat pain.
- Trim your nails to avoid scratching from itching.
- Use OTC anti-itch cream or medication to relieve itching.
- Stay hydrated with water to moisten the throat and avoid dehydration.
- Suck on throat lozenges. According to the Mayo Clinic, children older than 4 years can safely use lozenges to relieve sore throats.
- Stay away from irritants in the air, such as smoke.
- Try a saltwater gargle for throat pain.
- Humidify the air to stop throat irritation from dry air.
How Is Scarlet Fever Spread?
Scarlet Fever’s contagious period occurs during both the initial phase where there are no symptoms evident and about 12 hours to seven days after the initial contact with the bacteria and during the acute phase when the child has the rash and fever according to Medicine Net (https://www.medicinenet.com/scarlet_fever_scarlatina/article.htm). The way that scarlet fever is spread is by direct person-to-person -contact and by indirect methods such as using contaminated utensils, cups, towels, bed linen, and other objects used by an infected person.
How To Prevent Scarlet Fever
According to the CDC the following are some tips to follow to minimize the chances of getting Scarlet Fever:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. It is especially important for anyone with a sore throat to wash his or her hands often.
- Avoid sharing eating utensils, linens towels, or other personal items. Group A strep bacteria are spread through contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has these droplets on it, you may become ill.
- If infected, take antibiotics. Treatment with antibiotics can prevent most long-term health problems from scarlet fever.
- Stay home if infected. Children with scarlet fever should stay home from school or daycare for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics.
Scarlet Fever Complications
According to Health Line “in most cases, the rash and other symptoms of scarlet fever will be gone in about two weeks. However, left untreated, scarlet fever can cause serious complications. These can include:”
- Rheumatic fever
- Kidney disease
- Ear infections
- Skin infections
- Throat abscesses
Health Line state that these complications can be avoided if the scarlet fever is treated promptly with the right medication. So don’t delay have your child seen by his/her doctor.
In conclusion Scarlet Fever is a contagious infection caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. If your child has strep throat, he/she may also develop scarlet fever which results in the child not feeling well and developing a fine, sandpaper-like rash that consists of small, red bumps. Scarlet fever commonly occurs between the ages of 2 to 10. It spreads with direct contact with another person who is infected. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. It is advisable for the child to stay home for 24 hours after beginning antibiotic treatments. The prognosis for scarlet fever is usually excellent when treated appropriately with antibiotics.
I hope you learned something from this article about Scarlet Fever. There are many resources on the internet if you need more specific information. I will continue this series with another childhood disease post. I hope you will continue to join me in this quest to learn about these illnesses that children usually encounter when they are young. Thank-you for reading my article on ”Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Scarlet Fever”. If you would like to follow me, please check HERE
These are my previous articles. if you are interested in reading it:
Teachers & Parents Beware of Impetigo: I Gave It To My Teacher
Childhood Diseases –On a Mission to Learn: Chicken Pox
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Strep Throat
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Fifth Disease
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Measles
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Mumps
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Croup
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Asthma
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Tetanus
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Ear Infections
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Reye’s Syndrome
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Kawasaki Disease
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Ringworm
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Lyme Disease
** Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Rotavirus Infection**
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Hepatitis A