Doctors are urging parents to know how to spot the signs of scarlet fever.
It follows a rise in cases being seen by doctors across the North West region.
The symptoms of scarlet fever are a fine pinkish or red rash that feels similar to sandpaper – in conjunction with a sore throat, headache and fever. If your child has these symptoms it is recommended that you see your GP or call NHS 111.
Scarlet fever is one of the diseases that usually spreads at this time of year – but a higher number of cases than expected have been seen so far in 2018. It mostly affects the under-10s and is less common in teenagers and adults.
Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness but it spreads from person to person very easily and, if untreated, can have some more severe complications. It is diagnosed by a GP and treated with antibiotics.
The spread from person to person can be slowed down or stopped by thorough hand washing and by keeping children off school for at least 24 hours after their GP has started them on antibiotics and until the child is well enough to go back.
It is best for antibiotics to be started early so that complications, such as pneumonia, can be avoided and to stop the illness from spreading.
Dr Matt Tyrer, health protection lead at Cheshire East Council, said: “Although scarlet fever is a mild illness it spreads very easily. With more cases than usual being seen this year it’s very important for parents to recognise the signs, so that their children can be treated early.
“Scarlet fever usually starts with a sore throat, fever and headaches. The rash usually starts on the chest or tummy before spreading over the body and is rough to the touch, like sandpaper. It used to be more common than it is today – however, GPs have been seeing more cases than usual this year.
“If parents think that their child has the symptoms of scarlet fever we urge them to contact their GP, so that they can be assessed and treated as soon as possible. It’s also important that the children are kept out of school at least 24 hours after starting taking the antibiotics.”
For more information about scarlet fever and its symptoms, visit the NHS webpage at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/scarlet-fever/