Scarlet fever, sometimes called scarlatina, is a disease caused by a bacteria called group A Streptococcus or “group a strep”, the same bacteria that causes strep throat. Scarlet fever is a rash that sometimes occurs in people that have strep throat. People with scarlet fevers typically also have a high fever and a strawberry-like appearance of the tongue. The rash of scarlet fever is usually seen in children under the age of 18. Symptoms usually develop about 1 to 7 days (incubation period) after being exposed to someone with strep throat or scarlet fever.
The most common symptoms of are:
Scarlet fever begins with a rash that shows up as tiny red bumps. It most often begins on the chest and stomach but can then spread all over the body. It looks like a sunburn and feels like a rough piece of sandpaper. As the tiime goes by, it become redder in the creases of the elbows, arm pits, and groin areas. The rash lasts about 2-7 days. After the rash is gone, the skin on the tips of the fingers and toes begins to peel.
Scarlet fever are some other common signs:
- A flush face with a pale area around the lips.
- A red and sore throat that can have white or yellow patches.
- A fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius) or higher.
- Swollen glands in the neck; and
- A whitish coating can appear on the surface of the tongue. The tongue itself looks like a strawberry because the normal bumps on the tongue look bigger.
Whenever a person infected with scarlet fever sneezes or coughs, the strep microbes become airborne and infect others other persons by inhaling the same. The strep bacteria can be also present on those things that an infected person happens to touch like a door-knob or any drinking glass. Scarlet fever bacteria might contaminate food too; particularly milk, although this type of transmission is not very common.
Strep microbes causing fever can also spread from an individual to another from fluids present in the nose and mouth of a patient. The type of Streptococcal bacteria that attacks one’s throat resulting in scarlet fever is termed GABS or group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus. Unless treated in time, a person affected by scarlet fever can remain contagious for some weeks following the passing of the disease.
If rash is present on the body and the physician feels that it is scarlet fever, he/she will take a sample throat culture for laboratory tests. If found positive, the doctor will recommend antibiotic treatment for around ten days. This treatment improves the patient’s condition within 12 to 24 hours. The recovery takes place in 4 to 5 days. It might take some weeks to cure the tonsils and the swollen glands and bring them back to normal. It is vital that the patient completes the whole course of the prescribed antibiotics. Actually, antibiotics are used to destroy the bacteria that infect the throat as it is crucial in order to avert rheumatic fever, a severe complication of scarlet fever.