What is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection caused by the Streptococcus A group, which also causes strep throat. It used to be very common and cause serious complications, but today the infection is relatively rare.

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The disease is called “scarlet fever” (or “scarlatina”) because of its characteristic red rash, which is accompanied by fever and other flu-like symptoms. The infection often occurs together with strep throat. Scarlet fever is most common in children ages 5 to 18 years.

Like most infections, scarlet fever is transmitted from person to person, through droplets of mucus and saliva. People can catch scarlet fever by touching their mouth, nose or eyes after contact with an infected person or material.

Scarlet fever is treated with antibiotics to control the infection and prevent further complications. Proper treatment can resolve the symptoms of scarlet fever; however, the rash may last several weeks before subsiding.

The symptoms of scarlet fever can become severe, particularly if untreated. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any severe symptoms, such as convulsions, difficulty breathing or rapid breathing, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), loss of consciousness for even a brief moment, or seizures.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of scarlet fever?

Symptoms of scarlet fever are consistent with the flu, but they are accompanied by a characteristic red rash with a sandpaper-like texture. The rash first appears on the chest and stomach, but then may spread to other parts of the body. The rash may begin either before or up to several days after the flu-like symptoms. Creases around the elbows, underarms and groin may develop and appear bright red. Strep throat often occurs with this infection, as do body aches and high fever.... Read more about scarlet feversymptoms

CAUSES

What causes scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria that infect the nose and throat. Streptococcus group A is the same bacteria responsible for strep throat, which often occurs with the infection.... Read more about scarlet fevercauses

TREATMENTS

How is scarlet fever treated?

Treatment of scarlet fever begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To confirm the diagnosis, your health care provider will most likely obtain a throat culture to check for the presence of Streptococcus group A bacteria. Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment, along with bed rest and other supportive care to help reduce pain and discomfort.... Read more about scarlet fevertreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases


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