Advice on Scarlet Fever and Group A Strep

Cases of Scarlet Fever are higher than we'd usually expect at this time of year - find out what to do if you have concerns.

The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that scarlet fever cases continue to remain higher than we would typically see at this time of year.

Scarlet fever is caused by a bacteria called group A streptococci (GAS), or “group A strep”.  Typically, it causes a mild illness for most people but in very rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause a more serious illness called invasive Group A strep. Whilst still uncommon, there has been an increase in invasive Group A strep cases this year, particularly in children under 10.

There is currently no evidence to suggest a new strain is circulating, and the increase is most likely related to high amounts of circulating bacteria and a return to high levels of social mixing following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Group A Strep is highly infectious and is spread by close contact with an infected person, so good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread, as with lots of other viruses and infections.

Parents and carers should keep an eye out for symptoms which include a sore throat, headache, and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel, and go to, call 111 or speak to their GP practice if they have concerns.

Children with scarlet fever should stay home for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics to avoid spreading infection to others.

Rachel Partridge, Deputy Director of Public Health for Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Councils, said:

“Though national figures for Group A Strep and Scarlet Fever are higher than usual for this time of year, for most people these infections result in mild illness and in Dorset we have well-established process in place to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

“We work closely with families, schools and partners such as UKHSA South West and continue to share information with schools about any measures they need to take, including advice for parents.

“It’s important to remember that during the winter months, there are lots of viruses circulating that cause sore throats, colds and coughs, and most people will get better at home without needing medical care. However, if you notice the symptoms and have concerns you should contact NHS 111 or your GP.”

Local GP and Chair of the Dorset GP Alliance Dr Forbes Watson said "We recognise that parents are concerned about the health of their children and would urge them to visit the NHS Dorset website where they can find links to reliable and up to date information on Scarlet Fever and Strep A.

“Being winter there are lots of bugs circulating and most of these will clear up on their own, but if you recognise any of the symptoms, please use, call 111 or speak to someone at your local GP practice.

“If you do not have access to the internet and have concerns, please call 111 in the first instance or speak to your GP practice.”

Published on:
07/12/2022, 12:41