Scarlet Fever

scarlet feverWhile we rarely hear much about scarlet fever, the fact is that an increasing number of children are contracting this disease. Therefore it is imperative to be aware of the symptoms. Pediatric Specialist Dr. Hossam Eldin Maged Abdelrahman tells HEALTH how to identify this and how it’s treated.

Not many of us are fully aware of what scarlet fever is. Dr. Hossam Abdelrahman explains that scarlet fever is a bacterial disease characterized by pharyngitis, fever and bright red erythematous eruption. “It is a common disease mostly seen in children between ages 3 to 10 years,” he tells and it is more common during the late winter and spring seasons. “It is an infectious disease, not a genetic disease and is a streptococcal disease caused by group A beta hemolytic streptococci which are normal inhabitants of the nasopharynx,” he indicates.


The most important characteristic features which are unique to scarlet fever, indicates Dr. Hossam Abdelrahman, are the presence of a sore throat such as in pharyngitis or tonsillitis and lingual changes. “In the early stages, the tongue has a white coat with prominent papillae, also known as a white strawberry tongue,” he notes, then after several days the white coat desquamates leaving a red tongue with prominent papillae, known as a red strawberry tongue. He adds that other symptoms and signs are vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and maculopapular rash. “The rash appears on the first or second day and soon becomes generalized as red punctate or finely papular rash with a sand paper appearance,” he tells and the face appears flushed with circumoral pallor. This, Dr. Hossam Abdelrahman explains, remains for three to seven days and fades with branny desquamation.


Dr. Hossam Abdelrahman points out that scarlet fever is caused by toxin producing group A beta hemolytic streptocooci (GABHS). “It is found in secretions and discharge
from the nose, ears, throat and skin,” he says. “Person to person spread by means of respiratory droplets is the most common mode of transmission.” It may follow upper respiratory tract infections or streptococcal infections of skin and soft tissue.

How It Is Treated

According to Dr.Hossam Abdelrahman, currently a vaccine for group A streptoccoi does not exist. “The mode of treatment includes an adequate antistreptocoocal antibiotic for 10 days (amoxicillin – erythromycin – first generation cephalosporins),” he says as well as antipyretics such as Paracetamol. He adds that patients
should be advised to complete the entire course of antibiotics even if the symptoms resolve. Very importantly, Dr. Hossam Abdelrahman advises they should follow good general hygiene precautions especially in a household with other small children. Bed rest is indicated during the first few days.

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