The number of scarlet fever cases in Watford and Hertfordshire have been revealed in data released today (December 8).

As of the week ending December 4 (Sunday), Hertfordshire had 32 cases of scarlet fever – with two cases confirmed in Watford, seven in Three Rivers – the joint most of any Herts borough – and three in Hertsmere.

Dacorum had one and St Albans four, according to the government data.

Group A Streptococcus (GAS), often referred to as Strep A, can lead to various illnesses including scarlet fever, that can be lethal in children.    

Strep A has caused alarm in recent weeks with 15 children now having died as a result of infections caused by it.

A Herts County Council spokesperson said: “Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a common bacterium, which causes a range of infections including scarlet fever.

“It’s not unusual for there to be cases in children, particularly over the winter, and these infections are usually mild, but can occasionally cause more serious illness.

“However, we are concerned about a higher than expected number of cases across the country, including in Hertfordshire.

“That’s why we’ve written to all schools and parents with advice on what to look out for, what to do if their child becomes ill, and guidance on how to help prevent the spread of this bacteria.”

Strep A symptoms

The bacteria can be found in the throat and on the skin and people may carry it without displaying any symptoms.

It can live in throats and on hands for long enough to allow easy spread between people through sneezing, kissing and skin contact.

Invasive Strep A can cause further complications. Symptoms include high fever, severe muscle aches, localised muscle tenderness, and redness at the site of a wound.

Dr Yimmy Chow, health protection consultant at UKHSA London, said: “Group A streptococcal infections usually result in mild illness, and information has been shared with parents and staff about the signs and symptoms.

“These include a sore throat, fever and minor skin infections, and can be treated with a full course of antibiotics from the GP. In rare incidences, it can be a severe illness and anyone with high fever, severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body and unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea should call NHS 111 and seek medical help immediately.”

Symptoms of scarlet fever in a child

The infection can lead to Scarlet Fever. The illness is usually mild, but is highly infectious. 

Symptoms include a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel.

Scarlet fever lasts for around one week.

You can spread scarlet fever to other people up to six days before you get symptoms until 24 hours after you take your first dose of antibiotics.