PEABODY, Kansas – Scarlet fever is very serious.
It can lead to things like arthritis in the very young, kidney disease and it can even be deadly.
There is one, isolated case in the Peabody School District, where officials say they’re taking it very seriously.
“At the same time, you want to get that information to the parent so they know how to respond,” said Ron Traxson, USD 398 Superintendent
Traxson says a parent informed them after a doctor visit.
A preschooler had scarlet fever, and they caught the illness early.
It’s an isolated, single case.
They immediately sent a letter home with students in that particular classroom, and the school is responding by working to keep the school clean.
“We sanitize what we need to, restrooms, door knobs, that kind of stuff.”
That child is getting treated and antibiotics and is recovering.
While scarlet fever can be serious, a simple doctor visit can stop it in its tracks.
“It’s spread by coughing or sneezing. And once you’re in contact with those droplets from an infected person, then you can get group A strep,” said Chris Steward, Sedgwick County Health Department.
County health experts say it is extremely rare and most kids in the primary grades will never get it because strep throat is usually treated with antibiotics before it can lead to scarlet fever.
While school leaders in Peabody have informed parents about the illness, they say they’re just being proactive so everyone knows.
“It’s as much as important is that you don’t make a big deal out of something that can be treated really, pretty easily,” said Traxson.
How Do You Get Scarlet Fever?
Group A strep bacteria can live in a person’s nose and throat. The bacteria are spread through contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has these droplets on it, you may become ill. If you drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as the sick person, you could also become ill. It is possible to get scarlet fever from contact with sores from group A strep skin infections.
Scarlet Fever: What to Expect
Illness usually begins with a fever and sore throat. There also may be chills, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The tongue may have a whitish coating and appear swollen. It may also have a “strawberry”-like (red and bumpy) appearance. The throat and tonsils may be very red and sore, and swallowing may be painful.
One or two days after the illness begins, the characteristic red rash appears (although the rash can appear before illness or up to 7 days later). Certain strep bacteria produce a toxin (poison) which causes some people to break out in the rash-the “scarlet” of scarlet fever. The rash may first appear on the neck, underarm, and groin, then spread over the body. Typically, the rash begins as small, flat red blotches which gradually become fine bumps and feel like sandpaper.
Although the cheeks might have a flushed appearance, there may be a pale area around the mouth. Underarm, elbow and groin skin creases may become brighter red than the rest of the rash. These are called Pastia’s lines. The scarlet fever rash generally fades in about 7 days. As the rash fades, the skin may peel around the finger tips, toes, and groin area. This peeling can last up to several weeks.
Scarlet fever is treatable with antibiotics
Since either viruses or other bacteria can also cause sore throats, it’s important to ask the doctor about a strep test (a simple swab of the throat) if your child complains of having a sore throat. If the test is positive, meaning your child is infected with group A strep bacteria, your child’s doctor will prescribe antibiotics to avoid possible, although rare, complications, reduce symptoms, and prevent further spread of the disease.
Complications from Scarlet Fever:
Rheumatic fever (an inflammatory disease that can affect the heart, joint, skin, and brain)
Kidney disease (inflammation of the kidneys, called poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis)
Ear infections (otitis media)
Abscesses of the throat
Pneumonia (lung infection)
Arthritis (joint inflammation)
Most of these complications can be prevented by treatment with antibiotics.