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‘Highly contagious’ scarlet fever outbreak at school

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Stock image of a school classroom (PA)

Fears are growing over the spread of the highly contagious “scarlet fever” at a school in north-west England.

A school in Manchester was forced to send a letter to parents following an outbreak of the virus.

In the wake of the outbreak, the UK Health Security Agency revealed that it is now monitoring infection rates in the North West.

Scarlet fever can cause red rashes on the skin (NHS)

Scarlet fever can cause red rashes on the skin (NHS)

According to the Manchester Evening News, the letter read: “Dear Families, We have been informed that a small number of children in Bowker Vale have been diagnosed with confirmed scarlet fever.

“Although scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, it should be treated with antibiotics to minimize the risk of complications and reduce spread to others.”

The father of one of the children said his daughter woke up with a rash and began coughing after contracting the illness.

Subsequently, both parents developed similar symptoms.

Common symptoms include a sore throat, fever, rash, red folds of skin on the arm or elbow, or a white coating on the tongue.

Scarlet fever must be treated with antibiotics, but it can spread to the heart, liver or kidneys and cause meningitis or pneumonia, the NHS said.

Dr Merav Kliner, Acting Regional Deputy Director – North West, UK Health Security Agency, said: “It is not uncommon to see an increase in scarlet fever cases at this time of year.

“We continue to monitor infection rates in the Northwest. Scarlet fever is highly contagious, but it’s usually not serious and is easily treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications and spreading it to others.

“It is important to take antibiotics, as instructed by your GP, to minimize the risk of complications. The UKHSA reminds parents to be vigilant for the symptoms of scarlet fever and to call their GP or NHS 111 to get more advice or an evaluation if they think your child might have it.

“To limit the spread of scarlet fever, it’s important to practice good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and warm water, not sharing glasses or utensils, and covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.”

The virus had been one of the leading causes of death in the 19th century.

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