Strep A & Scarlet Fever

What is Strep A?
  • Strep A is a bacteria that causes a mild infection which can be treated with
  • antibiotics
  • It can cause some illnesses including a sore throat, scarlet fever, and
  • impetigo (skin rash)
  • It can in very rare cases become serious and affect children’s lungs and blood
Symptoms of scarlet fever and Strep A
  • Early symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache, fever
  • After 12 to 48 hours, red, tiny (like a pin) rash develops, usually on child’s chest and tummy. Sometimes the rash spreads to other parts of their body
  • Skin will feel rougher and scratchier than normal (like sandpaper)
  • Cheeks might feel flushed and children might be pale around their mouths.
  • It may look is different in darker skins but the feel is the same
What to do if someone has symptoms
  • Call 111 or your GP to find out the reason for the symptoms and get treatment
  • Stay at home to reduce the chance of giving other people the infection
  • If a child or adult is diagnosed with Strep A (eg scarlet fever), they should stay home until 24 hours after starting antibiotics
  • Antibiotics should be taken for as long as the GP prescribed - even if someone feels better
  • If your child is having difficulty breathing or turning blue call 999

Please download this leaflet What to do if your child is unwell help you understand what to look out for and how as a parent / carer you can best access the NHS.

DHSC and UKHSA have also created videos and a blog from medical experts on scarlet fever and Group Strep A to help reassure parents 

What to do to reduce the risk of getting or spreading Strep A
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds
  • Use a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes
  • Keep away from others when feeling unwell
  • Have your flu and COVID vaccines and childhood vaccines
Why are there more cases of Strep A at the moment
  • There are some ideas about why (eg people mixing more) but it isn’t yet clear why there are more cases
  • The number of cases becoming serious is NOT higher than in the past
  • For almost everyone, Strep A causes a mild disease that is easily treatable
  • There are more cases of Strep A so there are more cases of serious Strep A (invasive group A Strep)

Related Information


Last updated: 15/02/2024

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