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Scarlet fever cases continue across England

High levels of scarlet fever infection are continuing across England, with more than 400 confirmed cases just last week. 

A total of 8,305 cases have been reported since September 2013. 

Usually there would be decline in cases at this point in the year, but Public Health England (PHE) is concerned this may not happen because of the unusually high number of cases. 

PHE will continue working closely with healthcare professionals to assess the impact of the high levels of scarlet fever on the number of complications reported. Investigations also continue across the country to assess whether a new strain may have emerged.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE's head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: "We are still observing exceptionally high numbers of cases and will continue to monitor the situation closely to see if there is a sustained fall over the coming weeks."

Although scarlet fever is usually a mild illness it should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of further complications. It is mainly a childhood disease, most common between the ages of 2 and 8 years, although adults can also develop scarlet fever.

Schools, nurseries and childcare settings should embed good hand hygiene practice within daily routines for pupils and staff and alert local PHE Health Protection Teams if an outbreak of scarlet fever is suspected. 

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.