7 December 2022

Local Shrewsbury-based GP Dr Charlotte Hart has spoken out this week on the upsurge in cases of Group A Strep and scarlet fever.

Speaking in a live interview on local radio station BBC Radio Shropshire yesterday, Dr Hart explained the symptoms parents should watch out for, and signposted to the most appropriate NHS service.

Dr Hart said: “Scarlet fever, or ‘Strep A’, is caused by bacteria called group A streptococci (strep). Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious. Look out for symptoms in your child which include a sore throat, headache and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to detect visually, but will have a sandpapery feel.

“Contact NHS 111 online (or by phone) or your GP if you suspect your child has scarlet fever, because early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection. If your child has scarlet fever, keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

“It is important to mention that there are lots of viruses that cause sore throats, colds and coughs this time of year. These should resolve without medical intervention. Your community pharmacy is a great first port of call for minor health issues, as pharmacists are highly trained clinicians who can advise on whether medication or GP involvement is needed.

“I would urge parents to look at the symptoms and pictures of scarlet fever online and speak to NHS 111 as a first port of call. As a parent, if you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement.”

Contact NHS 111 or your GP if:

  • your child is getting worse
  • your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39°C or higher
  • your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • your child is very tired or irritable.

Call 999 or go to A & E if:

  • your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • there are pauses when your child breathes
  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.

Dr Hart adds: “Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. By teaching your child how to wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up or spreading infections.”

For more information (including pictures of the symptoms of scarlet fever) visit the NHS webpage on scarlet fever here.

The latest advice and guidance on Strep A can be found here.