Scarlet fever outbreak in UK sickens hundreds: report

An outbreak of the highly contagious scarlet fever has reportedly sickened hundreds of people across England and Wales, according to a report.

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In the week ending Dec. 1, health officials reportedly recorded 450 cases of scarlet fever in England while 30 were reported in Wales, according to the Mirror. For comparison, about 281 cases were reported in the week ending Nov. 3, as per the Daily Mail. 

Scarlet fever causes a bright red rash.

Scarlet fever causes a bright red rash. (iStock)

The increase comes after the British Medical Journal (BMJ) last year found the highly contagious bacterial illness was on the rise after seeing years of a decline, the Mirror reports. A new, aggressive strain of the infection reportedly was a cause of the increase.

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Scarlet fever, which largely affected children during the Victorian era and early 20th century, is now considered a less-threatening illness due to the antibiotic treatments available today, according to the Mayo Clinic. The bacterial illness, which develops in some people who contract strep throat, causes fever, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, and a bright, red rash — where the illness gets its name. Red lines in the folds of the skin, a flushed face and strawberry-colored tongue are often signs as well. The infection is highly contagious, spreading easily when a person coughs or sneezes.