Guidance has been issued to facilities managers at schools and nurseries in the wake of a large increase in scarlet fever notifications across England.
Public Health England has reported 1,049 new cases of the disease in the week from 31 March to 6 April, with 7,198 new cases since the season began in September last year.
As scarlet fever is a seasonal disease, and this time of year is historically the peak, experts are predicting a decline in numbers over the coming weeks, but PHE has still issued guidance on the public health management of scarlet fever outbreaks in schools, nurseries and other child care settings.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, PHE Consultant Epidemiologist, said: “PHE strongly urge schools to embed good hand hygiene practices within daily routines for pupils and staff. 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.”
Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: “As scarlet fever cases continue to increase, PHE are working closely with healthcare professionals to assess the impact on the frequency of complications. We have a system in place to obtain a sample of strains from across the country to assess whether a new strain may have emerged.”
Children between two and eight are most at risk of the airborne disease, which is no longer as dangerous as it once was, despite there being no vaccine.
Copyright Press Association 2014