PARENTS in York are urged to look out for symptoms of scarlet fever among their children, after a rapid increase in cases nationally.

Public Health England (PHE) has received increased reports of the disease and City of York Council says parents should be aware of the signs.

In the past four weeks, 868 notifications have been received in England, compared to 591 for the equivalent period last year.

Around 90 per cent of scarlet fever cases occur in children under 10, and it is most common among children aged two to eight, particularly among four-year-olds. Adults can also catch the disease, but such cases are rarer.

Symptoms include:

  • Sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting
  • A characteristic fine red rash after 12-48 hours, on the chest and stomach, rapidly spreading to other areas. It feels like sandpaper to touch
  • Fever over 38.3C or higher is common
  • White coating on the tongue, which peels a few days later leaving the tongue looking red and swollen
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Feeling tired and unwell
  • Flushed red face but pale around the mouth
  • Peeling skin on fingertips, toes and groin, as the rash fades.

It usually takes two to five days from infection before the first symptoms appear, says City of York Council, and the exclusion period for schools and nurseries is 24 hours from the start of antibiotics.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, the council's director of health and wellbeing, said: "Being aware of the symptoms and catching any confirmed cases as soon as possible will help to reduce the spread of the disease."   

Dr Mark Hayes, Chief Clinical Officer of NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Scarlet Fever is highly contagious. It takes around two to five days to develop symptoms after being infected and it is vital that the patient receives antibiotics.

"To protect yourself from getting the illness you should:
• Wash your hands often
• Not share eating utensils with an infected person
• Wash, or dispose of, handkerchiefs and tissues contaminated by an infected person
• Be aware that you can catch scarlet fever by inhaling airborne droplets if someone with the illness coughs or sneezes in the air near you.”
If you suspect that you or your child has scarlet fever:
• See your GP as soon as possible
• Take the full course of any antibiotics prescribed by your GP
• Stay at home, away from school or work for at least 24 hours after starting treatment, to avoid spreading the infection

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, council cabinet member for health, said: “Whilst the national trend of an increase in the incidence of scarlet fever isn’t being seen in Yorkshire and Humber at the moment it is really important that York’s parents and carers are aware of the symptoms.  It is important to receive treatment for scarlet fever as soon as possible to avoid any possible complications."

For more information visit and search for scarlet fever.