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Scarlet Fever

Get the facts on Scarlet Fever treatment, diagnosis, staging, causes, types, symptoms. Information and current news about clinical trials and trial-related data, Scarlet Fever prevention, screening, research, statistics and other Scarlet Fever related topics. We answer all your qestions about Scarlet Fever.

Question: Can you get scarlet fever without developing a fever? I took my daughter to the doctor today for a rash on her chest and back. She said that she has strep throat which caused scarlet fever. She doesn't have a sore throat and hasn't had one and she hasn't even acted sick? Is this abnormal? Is it possible the doctor is wrong?

Answer: If your child has scarlet fever, he or she may experience these common signs and symptoms: * Red rash that looks like a sunburn and feels like sandpaper * Red lines (Pastia's lines) in folds of skin around the groin, armpits, elbows, knees and neck * Strawberry red and bumpy appearance of the tongue, often covered with a white coating early in the disease * Flushed face with paleness around the mouth * Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher, often with chills * Very sore and red throat, sometimes with white or yellowish patches * Difficulty swallowing * Enlarged glands in the neck (lymph nodes) that are tender to the touch * Nausea or vomiting * Headache The sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes and fever are likely to appear first, while the "scarlet" signs and symptoms of scarlet fever usually appear on the second day of illness. If your child has scarlet fever, the rash and flushing will likely begin on his or her chest and spread to the neck, face, trunk, arms and legs. The rash won't appear on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. The rash and the redness in the face and tongue usually last about a week. After these scarlet fever symptoms have subsided, the skin affected by the rash often peels. Photos showing scarlet fever The red rash of scarlet fever usually begins on the chest and spreads to the neck, trunk, arms and legs. Causes A bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus causes scarlet fever. This is the same bacterial infection that causes strep throat, but the strain of bacteria causing scarlet fever releases toxins that produce the rash, Pastia's lines, flushed face and red tongue. Strep bacteria that cause scarlet fever spread from one person to another by fluids from the mouth and nose. If an infected person coughs or sneezes, the bacteria can become airborne, or the bacteria may be present on things the person touches — a drinking glass or a doorknob. If you're in proximity to an infected person, you may inhale airborne bacteria. If you touch something an infected person has touched and then touch your own nose or mouth, you could pick up the bacteria. The incubation period — the time between exposure and illness — is usually two to four days. If scarlet fever isn't treated, a person may be contagious for a few weeks even after the illness itself has passed. And someone may carry scarlet fever strep bacteria without being sick. Therefore, it's difficult to know if you've been exposed. Scarlet fever strep bacteria can also contaminate food, especially milk, but this mode of transmission isn't as common. Rare causes of scarlet fever Rare causes of scarlet fever are other strains of Streptococcus pyogenes associated with either a skin infection (impetigo) or a uterine infection contracted during childbirth. These cases result in the characteristic fever, rash and other "scarlet" symptoms but not signs and symptoms associated with a throat infection. Risk factors Children 5 to 15 years of age are more likely than other people to get scarlet fever. Scarlet fever strep bacteria spread more easily among people in close contact. If a child carries the bacteria, the disease can spread easily among family members or schoolmates. When to seek medical advice Talk to your doctor if your child has any one of the following signs or symptoms: * A sore throat with a fever * A fever of 102 F (38.9 C) or higher (100 F for infants 6 months old or younger) * A sore throat that doesn't get better within 24 to 48 hours * A sore throat with swollen or tender glands in the neck * A rash * Difficulty swallowing or opening his or her mouth all the way Tests and diagnosis Your doctor will conduct an exam to determine the cause of your child's sore throat, rash and other symptoms. He or she will: * Look at the condition of your child's throat, tonsils and tongue * Feel your child's neck to determine if lymph nodes are enlarged * Assess the appearance and texture of the rash If your doctor suspects strep as the cause of your child's illness, he or she will also swab the back of your child's throat to collect material that may harbor strep bacteria. Tests for the strep bacterium are important because a number of conditions can cause the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever, and these illnesses may require different treatments. If there are no strep bacteria, then some other factor is causing the illness. Your doctor may order one or more of the following laboratory tests: * Throat culture. The sample from your child's throat is examined in a laboratory test in which the bacteria can thrive. Although this is a very reliable test, the results may take as long as two days. * Rapid antigen test. Your doctor may also order a rapid antigen test, sometimes called a rapid strep test, which can detect foreign proteins (antigens) associat

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