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Nine confirmed or suspected cases of scarlet fever this year

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HEALTH officials are advising parents to watch out for scarlet fever.

Scarlet fever. (26948857)

There have been nine confirmed or suspected cases so far this year.

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness but it is highly infectious so Public Health Services are advising parents to be aware of symptoms, which include a sore throat, headache and fever with the characteristic pink or red sandpapery rash appearing within a day or two, typically on the chest and stomach that then may spread to other parts of the body.

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection that generally affects children under 10 years old more than teenagers or adults, although adults can also be infected. If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, it is important to contact your GP.

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink said: 'Scarlet fever is very contagious but usually not serious and can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications and spread to others.

'We would also like to reinforce the message that if you think that you or your child may have symptoms of scarlet fever please contact your GP. Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection.'

Health protection nurse Jo Rocha added: 'The Public Health Services strongly urge schools to embed good hand hygiene practices within daily routines for pupils and staff. Children and adults should be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough and sneeze and to wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.

'Scarlet fever is a highly infectious and can be caught through direct contact with an infected person or through the air via droplets from coughs or sneezes.'

Practicing good infection-control measures around someone with the illness will help reduce the spread of infection. These include washing or disposing of all contaminated tissues or handkerchiefs immediately, washing hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water and not sharing eating utensils, clothes, bedding and towels.

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