Falkirk parents urged to look out for scarlet fever

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Parents are being warned to look out for their children showing symptoms of a highly contagious infection.

The number of cases of scarlet fever is currently said to be at its highest level for almost 50 years in parts of the UK.

However, with no need to report the disease in Scotland compared to England and Wales where it must be notified to health chiefs, there are no exact statistics.

Although cases of scarlet fever have been reported in Forth Valley Royal Infirmary’s children’s ward, a health board official said at the weekend there were currently none.

Commenting on the situation in Forth Valley, a spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said: “An increased prevalence of scarlet fever has been reported across the UK as a whole.

“This is not unusual as the pattern of this disease is to show a seasonal increase at this time of year.

“Scarlet fever in Scotland is not a notifiable disease as it is in England.

“Because of this we do not know where cases are occurring, but we have not had any reports of a large scale outbreak in Forth Valley.”

NHS Forth Valley, asked about potential hospital cases, said there are currently none in Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s children’s ward.

Scarlet fever is not the potentially deadly threat posed to some sufferers in decades past, and can be treated with antibiotics, but there are no figures available for how it is currently affecting Scotland.

Reports from down south suggest a substantial rise in the number of cases over the winter, with more than 6200 cases reported between September and the end of January.

A report in Which? magazine says it’s been suggested the apparently high number of cases reported in England may be explained by increased awareness and reporting.

Scarlet fever is most common in younger children, and its symptoms can include soaring temperature, swollen tongue, and a rash that feels rough to the touch.

Anyone who suspects their child may have scarlet fever is generally advised to keep them at home to prevent the spread of infection, and to contact their GP immediately.

Last week dozens of readers took to Facebook to report how their youngsters had been suffering from scarlet fever.

Nicola Muldoon said: “Wee man was in the children’s ward for the weekend.”

While Yvonne Horner said her seven-year-old currently has it, adding: “GP recognised it immediately and said there had been quite a number of cases recently and prescribed ten days penicillin”.

Claire Wilson reported an email from her son’s nursery warning parents of cases.