As cases of scarlet fever increase, puzzled researchers investigate


The ancient murderous scarlet fever is on the rise in England and East Asia, according to research published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases magazine on Monday, and researchers do not know why.

"While the current rates (in England) are not close to those observed in the early 1900s, the magnitude of the recent recrudescence is greater than that documented in the last century," said study author Theresa Lamagni of Public Health England, the agency that funded the badysis. "While notifications so far for 2017 suggest a slight decrease in numbers, we continue to monitor the situation carefully … and research continues to investigate the increase."

Identified by a bright red rash that looks and feels like sandpaper, scarlet fever is a highly contagious disease caused by the same bacteria behind streptococcal pharyngitis, Group A Streptococcus pyogenes.

Historically, a cause As a common cause of infant death, scarlet fever has been declining in the last two centuries, according to the study, with any increase in cases that generally follow a "natural cyclic pattern" every four or six years.

But since 2009, cases have been steadily increasing in several countries in East Asia, including Vietnam, South Korea, Hong Kong and mainland China.

An outbreak later reached England, where cases tripled in one year, from 4,700 in 2013 to 15,637 in 2014. Infections continued to increase to almost 20,000 in 2016, a maximum of 50 years for the United Kingdom, rick badysis.

Hospital admissions during the outbreak in England are also high, according to the researchers, they almost doubled between 2013 (703 cases) and 2016 (1300 cases).

Identification of scarlet fever

Although anyone who strep throat can cause scarlet fever, also known as scarlet fever, the disease usually affects children under 10 years. Often disseminated through coughing and sneezing, group A streptococci can also hide in knobs, dishes and utensils for hours. [19659002] The red rash that gives name to scarlet fever usually begins in the neck and face and extends to the thorax, back and other parts of the body. At first, the rash will look like a sunburn, but then it will begin to rise and fill with potholes. If pressed, the red skin will turn white; It can also be itchy. Once the rash disappears, the skin will often peel, especially in the groin, fingertips and fingers.

A very sore and red throat that makes swallowing difficult, along with a fever of 101 or more, is a key sign of scarlet fever, along with swelling of the neck glands, headaches and chills, nausea and vomiting.

An early symptom may be a "strawberry" tongue, which looks more red and bumpy than usual, along with a whitish layer on the inside of the throat. Other telltale signs include a flushed face (except a white streak around the mouth) and red streaks in the folds of the skin, with the armpits, knees and elbows showing a deeper tone.

The treatment for scarlet fever is the same as for streptococcus: a course of antibiotics, which must be completed to eliminate the bacteria and prevent a relapse. If the regimen is followed properly, the disease usually goes away in a couple of weeks. If left untreated, it can cause serious illness or even death.

Complications of scarlet fever can include Bright's disease, a form of kidney damage and rheumatic fever, an autoimmune disease that affects the heart, joints, skin and brain. If rheumatic fever affects the heart, it can cause long-term damage. That is one of the reasons why scarlet fever was the leading cause of heart disease in adults before penicillin was discovered.

Throughout the centuries, scarlet fever has caused devastating epidemics. Those infected were often isolated for weeks, while their beds and belongings were burned to prevent the spread of the disease. The reason why the prevalence of the disease began to decline, even before the widespread use of antibiotics, is a mystery.

Detective work is ongoing

Why the disease is resurfacing today is also a mystery, according to the study. Researchers are considering possibilities such as a change in human immune status, environmental causes and even the disease that travels from Asia to England, although the evidence is slight. Although cases in the United Kingdom came from at least three known strains, only one was also observed in Hong Kong, and only in some cases.

"Although there is no clear connection between the situation in the United Kingdom and East Asia, a link can not be excluded without a better understanding of the factors behind these changes," said Lamagni. "The search for more explanations for the increase in scarlet fever continues."

Meanwhile, it suggests that parents in England be alert to telltale signs and act quickly to take their children, or themselves, to a doctor for evaluation and treatment.

"Guidance on outbreak management in schools and nurseries has just been updated, and research continues to investigate the increase," he said. "We encourage parents to know the symptoms of scarlet fever and contact their (general practitioner) if they think their child might have it."

In a commentary published alongside the work, professors at the University of Queensland Mark Walker and Stephan Brouwer recommend that public health systems around the world be on guard.

"The epidemics of scarlet fever have not yet declined in the United Kingdom and Northeast Asia," they wrote. "Therefore, greater global vigilance is warranted for the spread of scarlet fever."

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