Alert as scarlet fever breaks out across Nottinghamshire
PARENTS are being warned to be on their guard after an outbreak of scarlet fever in Notts.
Cases of the infectious disease, which causes a rash and high temperature, have been confirmed at primary schools in Mapperley, West Bridgford, Ollerton, Newark and Ilkeston.
So far this week, nine pupils have been taken ill – but head teachers and public health leaders are telling parents not to panic.
All of the schools are remaining open.
Head teacher Andy Cassidy, at Mapperley Plains Primary, in Central Avenue, where two children have been diagnosed with the disease, said: “We are not worried about this at the moment.
“We have not informed our parents about the situation yet because the children who caught it are in Foundation One and do not attend the school full-time.”
In the first eight weeks of this year, 46 cases of scarlet fever were confirmed in Notts, in addition to the nine cases that have arisen this week.
This compares with just 15 cases the first eight weeks of last year and only 156 recorded in the county for the whole year in 2013.
The disease was once a major cause of death in children but, since the introduction of antibiotics, it is no longer considered dangerous.
Symptoms include a sore throat, a high temperature and a rash.
Yesterday, new cases were reported at four schools after three children were confirmed with the illness at Ollerton Primary on Wednesday. One child from Jesse Gray Primary School, in Haileybury Road, West Bridgford, is being treated for scarlet fever.
Head teacher Sarah Law said: “We told parents we thought we had a couple of cases but it turned out that one was something else and that child is now back in school.
“There are no plans to close the school.”
Two cases reported at Chaucer Infant and Nursery School, in Ilkeston, have left some parents worried. Mother of two Suzy O’Connor, 41, of Ilkeston, said: “It seems to be spreading across the area. I have looked up the symptoms and I am now on the lookout for it.”
Jonathan Gribbin, consultant in public health at NHS Nottinghamshire County, said: “There is no cause for alarm.
“In most cases, scarlet fever is easily treated by antibiotics and, with proper treatment, further problems are very unlikely.”
ONE hundred and fifty years ago, one of the most feared and deadly infections in Britain was scarlet fever.
But following the introduction of antibiotics it was largely wiped out – and is now not considered dangerous.
However, following a sharp increase in reported numbers in Notts, parents have expressed surprise at the return of scarlet fever.
Mother-of-three Eve Bennett, of Central Avenue, Stapleford, said: “I have looked at all the information and I know what to look out for.
“I am concerned about it but I have done the research and am prepared if it comes to this area.
“I am very surprised it has actually come back, you expect chicken pox but not this.”
One new case of the illness was reported yesterday at Jesse Gray Primary School in West Bridgford.
Parents of pupils at the school have been made aware of the situation and the school will remain open for the time being.
Head teacher Sarah Law said: “We have had one confirmed case and we have sent information to parents to inform them of exactly what scarlet fever is.
“We are maintaining our general hygiene throughout the school.
“We will keep providing good communication with our parents about the situation. We are not worried.”
There have been nine new reported cases of scarlet fever in five schools over the last few days in Mapperley, West Brigford, Ollerton, Newark and Ilkeston.
The illness, caused by bacteria, is most common in children aged between two and eight and is extremely contagious.
Symptoms usually begin to appear two to five days after infection.
Mother Anna Rich, 39, of West Bridgford, said: “I have only just heard about it, but to be honest it is not a big concern to me.
“As long as the schools are aware of it then they can deal with it promptly.”
The latest cases come off the back of three pupils from Ollerton Primary School being diagnosed with the illness on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Two cases have also been reported at the Chaucer Infant and Nursery School, in Ilkeston, which have caused staff to launch an appeal.
Head teacher Catherine Beattie said: “We have no plans to close at the moment but we would like parents to inform us if their child has caught it.
“We are waiting to see how things develop before making any decisions about closing.”
Public Health England East Midlands, is issuing advice to schools and nurseries on scarlet fever following an overall increase in cases within the region.
Dr Vanessa MacGregor, the organisation’s consultant in public health, said: “Public Health England would like to reassure parents that, for the majority of scarlet fever cases, symptoms are easily treatable with a course of antibiotics.
“They will usually clear up after a week of treatment.
“Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid passing on the infection.
“We will continue to closely monitor these increases and work with healthcare professionals to try and halt the spread of infection.”
Where outbreaks occur, local health protection teams are on hand to provide a rapid response.
Jonathan Gribbin, consultant in public health for Notts, said: “As with most areas of the country, we have seen an increase in the number of cases of scarlet fever locally.
“In response we are working with partners including Public Health England to make sure that schools, parents and carers are well informed.
“It is infectious and parents can help keep the increase of scarlet fever in check by being vigilant for the signs of the infection in children.”
He said where symptoms appear parents should contact their GP immediately.