Home Health news Warning as parts of UK see 300% rise in cases of Victorian disease – full list of hotspots

Warning as parts of UK see 300% rise in cases of Victorian disease – full list of hotspots

by Editor

Scarlet fever: Doctor details symptoms of bacterial infection

A health expert has urged people to be on the lookout for telltale signs of a potentially deadly Victorian disease as some parts of the UK have reported a 300 percent rise in cases. According to data gathered by Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, diagnoses of scarlet fever have skyrocketed.

The highly contagious infection typically causes flu-like symptoms as well as a rash over the chest and stomach.

In extreme cases it can cause complications such as pneumonia, meningitis and rheumatic fever, although it should be treatable by antibiotics.

It is most dangerous to young children but unlike some other illnesses that affect children and babies, there is no vaccine to prevent it.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, pharmacist at NowPatient – Navin Khosla, explained: “In recent years, despite the overall decline in severity, scarlet fever has emerged as a concern once more, with a notable resurgence in reported cases.

Child with scarlet fever

Cases of scarlet fever have risen in the UK, data has shown (Image: Getty Images)

“Therefore, early recognition of signs is imperative, as it minimises the potential for complications and ensures effective containment of the disease within communities.”

His warning comes as data collated by NowPatient from FOI requests to NHS trusts across the UK reveal the extent of the disease’s reach.

The most significant change in cases belongs to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which saw a 300 percent rise in cases over a four-year period.

In 2019, the trust noted five cases, which rose to 20 in 2023.

Next on the list is Northern Lincolnshire and Goole. This NHS trust reported 15 cases of scarlet fever last year compared to just five back in 2019, equating to a 200 percent increase.

Back of Small Child with Red Rash

Scarlet fever can cause a red rash that starts on the chest and tummy (Image: Getty)

Mid and South Essex is one of the biggest NHS trusts in the country, therefore, it may be surprising that it has only seen 17 reported cases of scarlet fever throughout 2023.

But having said this, cases here have spiked by almost 143 percent since 2019, the third highest of any NHS trust.

Symptoms to look for

Navin shared how to spot the symptoms of scarlet fever.

“Caused by the group A strain of the streptococcus bacteria, scarlet fever presents with a distinct set of symptoms, typically starting with flu-like manifestations such as high fever, sore throat, and swollen neck glands,” he said.

“However, its telltale sign is the appearance of a rash, characterised by small, raised bumps initially appearing on the chest and abdomen before spreading across the body.

Child with a swollen neck

Swollen lymph nodes are another sign of scarlet fever (Image: Getty)

“This rash imparts a rough texture to the skin, resembling sandpaper, often accompanied by a white coating on the tongue, which subsequently peels away to reveal a swollen, red surface speckled with tiny bumps, also known as ‘strawberry tongue’.”

If you or your child experiences symptoms you should call your GP surgery. They may suggest a phone consultation to avoid spread of the infection.

The NHS also advises staying away from your place of work and keeping your child out of school.

“While scarlet fever predominantly affects children, it can also affect adults, albeit less frequently,” Navin added.

“Early recognition of symptoms is crucial, as timely administration of antibiotics plays a pivotal role in preventing further complications and reducing the risk of transmission. Despite its contagious nature, scarlet fever is generally not deemed a severe illness today, given appropriate medical intervention.

“However, rare instances of invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS) can pose significant health risks, including septic arthritis, pneumonia, meningitis, and toxic shock syndrome.”

The NowPatient research also revealed an increase in other illnesses and conditions often associated with Victorian Britain.

Liverpool University Hospitals was named the NHS trust with the biggest increase in malnutrition cases at 446.8 percent and gout cases at 960.4 percent.

Kettering General Hospital has seen the biggest increase in tuberculosis cases at 238.9 percent, while East Kent Hospitals University has seen an increase of 380.3 percent in rickets cases – more than any other trust.

10 worst hit hospitals for scarlet fever:

  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital – 300 percent increase increase from 2019 to 2023
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole – 200 percent
  • Mid and South Essex – 142.9 percent
  • Calderdale and Huddersfield – 100 percent
  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals – 60 percent
  • Northampton General Hospital – 57.1 percent
  • Bedfordshire Hospitals – 53.8 percent
  • Birmingham Womens and Childrens – 45.5 percent
  • Milton Keynes University Hospital – 30 percent
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare – 21.4 percent.

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