Scarlet fever results from an infection with Streptococcus pyogenes or group A beta haemolytic streptococci that produces an erythrogenic toxin (1,2).
Group A beta haemolytic streptococci is commonly found on the skin or in the throat and is responsible for causing bacterial sore throat or “strep throat” (1,2). It may also cause:
- necrotizing fasciitis
- streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (2).
Scarlet fever is primarily a childhood disease and is commonly seen in children between the ages of two and eight years (1).
It is a highly contagious infection. Transmission occurs when bacteria (present in an infected person’s saliva or mucous)
- is spread by aerosol - sneezing, coughing, or breathing out
- comes into direct contact with an uninfected person (1)
Although scarlet fever is seen after streptococcal sore throat in a majority of the patients, it may also occur following burns or an infected wound (2).
Invasive group A streptococcal disease and scarlet fever are notifiable disease under the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010 (3).
This disease has an incubation period of two to four days (2).
A milder form of scarlet fever is described by some clinicians as “scarlatina” although others consider this to be a synonym for scarlet fever (2)
here for an example image of scarlet fever rash