UTTOXETER’S parents are being urged to be on their guard after a 15-fold increase in scarlet fever cases.
In the first quarter of 2011, there were just two cases reported in East Staffordshire.
But there have already been 29 reports of people contracting the illness in 2014.
This reflects a county-wide trend that has seen reported cases jump for five in 2011 to 50 this year.
Nationally, levels of the disease have hit a 30-year high.
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s public health boss, said: “There has been a sharp rise in the number of reported cases in the county and across the country.
“The council’s public health team is working closely with regional colleagues to see if there is a reason for the increase, particularly in East Staffordshire and in the meantime it is sensible to see your GP if you think your child may have symptoms.”
Symptoms of scarlet fever include a fine, pink-red rash that ‘feels like sandpaper’ to touch.
It can start in one area but spread quickly to the ears, neck and chest.
Sufferers will also have a high temperature, a ‘flushed’ face and a red, swollen tongue.
Although most scarlet fever cases are mild and can be treated by antibiotics, there is no vaccine and the condition can lead to complications in some children.
Dr Alison Teale, consultant in public health with Staffordshire County Council, said: “If children do have symptoms such as the fine red rash and high temperature then they should contact their GP as soon as possible.
“Although most children respond very well to antibiotics, the illness is very infectious so it is important that people are treated as swiftly as possible.”
Public Health England is looking into possible reasons for the spike in cases of the infection.
Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that causes a distinctive pink-red rash.
It is mainly caught by children, most commonly between the ages of two and eight.
Although historically a very dangerous infection, it has now become much less serious.