It can cause a sore throat, high temperature and flushed cheeks as well as a blotchy rash, and often strikes after bacterial skin infections such as impetigo.
“The continued elevation of invasive GAS disease in 2016 compared with recent years is of concern and continued vigilance is recommended,” said Public Health England in a report.
In Liverpool, 12 suspected cases were reported last week.
This is more than twice the city’s average in recent months, according to the While scarlet fever is much less common than it used to be, outbreaks of the illness appear to be on the rise, especially in winter when infections are more frequent.
A pink rash which feels like sandpaper will appear after one or two days. The illness has an incubation period that can last from one to seven days after a person is infected. 80 per cent of scarlet fever cases are seen in children under 10-years-old because their immune systems are not yet developed, but anyone can catch it. Touching skin infected with impetigo as well as sharing bed sheets, clothes, towels and baths can pass scarlet fever on.
If soap and water are not available, then an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol should be used.
See your GP as soon as possible if you think you or your child has scarlet fever.
Although the illness usually clears up after about a week, your GP will be able to confirm a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment." Any child diagnosed with scarlet fever should not go to school until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment while any adult affected should stay off work for at least 24 hours after starting treatment. Scarlet fever is spread through close contact with infected people or indirect contact with objects and surfaces contaminated with the bacteria. Symptoms usually clear up in a week and most cases are uncomplicated as long as children finish the course of antibiotics.
Potential complications include ear infection, throat abscess and pneumonia.
PHE said the parents of any child who does not show signs of improvement within a few days of starting treatment should seek urgent medical advice.