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Scarlet fever, scarlet fever. “Extraordinary rise in cases.” An expert on causes and symptoms

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Italy has become the next European country after France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK to see an increase in scarlet fever cases in recent months. What is the situation in Poland?

On April 12, the Italian Ministry of Health issued a statement on the growing incidence of scarlet fever. As noted in its content, quoted by the Rai News portal, the observed “since January 2023 increase in the number of cases” in particular occurs in “children under the age of 15”. Asked by the local service Sanita Informazione about the situation in the country, the former president of the Italian Federation of Paediatricians Paolo Biasci replies that although there is currently not enough data on this subject, there is an “extraordinary increase for this period”.

Scarlet fever – where the number of cases is increasing

In recent months, an increased spread of scarlet fever has also been observed in other European countries. IN Ireland between October 2, 2022 and April 15, 2023, there were 252 cases of severe streptococcal infections (causing, among others, scarlet fever). “Data from 2023 shows that the number of cases is still higher than expected. Only in the first quarter, 153 cases of severe streptococcal infections were reported. In the years before the pandemic (in the same period – ed.), their average number was 38” – stated in a communiqué published on the website of the Irish Healthcare Surveillance Centre.

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In the neighboring one Great Britain between September 12 last year and March 26 this year, there were over 52,000 reports of scarlet fever. For comparison, in the last high-incidence season, i.e. from September 2017 to September 2018, this number did not exceed 31,000 cases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), last year the increase in the incidence of scarlet fever also concerned Francethe Netherlands and Sweden. Does this trend also apply to Poland?

Increase in the incidence of scarlet fever in Poland

According to the Polish Press Agency, citing the data of the National Institute of Public Health, last year there were 12,628 cases of scarlet fever in our country. Importantly, more than half of them occurred between October and December. For comparison, in the whole of 2021, about 4.7 times less people fell ill with this disease – exactly 2,649 patients.

– Recently, there has been a significant increase in diseases caused by group A streptococci responsible for strep throat and scarlet fever. These bacteria also cause, among others, sepsis (ed.) – comments Dr. Tomasz Szatkowski, head of the pediatric ward of the Multispecialty Provincial Hospital in Gorzów Wielkopolski. “Group A streptococci can also cause pulmonary empyemas as well as inflammation of the orbital tissue,” he adds.

SEE ALSO: World Health Organization on more patients with hemorrhagic fever

An expert on the cause of the increase in diseases

When asked about the reasons for the increased incidence, Dr. Szatkowski points to the seasonality observed for years, according to which there are both years with a higher and lower number of cases. He adds that in his opinion, incorrect treatment is also responsible for the growing number of patients. The pediatrician emphasizes that, according to the recommendations, the period of antibiotic therapy used for this type of infection should be 10 days.

In an interview with TVN24.pl, the head doctor also talks about the problems he observes with the availability of drugs, which, in his opinion, make it difficult to effectively combat scarlet fever and angina. – It’s bad. There are problems with the availability of antibiotics (penicillins and first- and second-generation cephalosporins in the form of a suspension). These preparations are periodically available in tablet form, but not in liquid form. Doctors treat with what is available, and what is available does not always work – he comments.

Problems with the availability of the above. preparations is confirmed by the vice-president of the Supreme Pharmacy Council, Marek Tomkow. – These are the simplest and at the same time very effective drugs – he assesses. As he says, their greatest shortages occurred at the turn of December and January, at the time of intensification of influenza, RSV and COVID-19. Currently, the situation has improved somewhat “due to the fact that the number of cases has decreased”. However, drugs are still hard to come by. This problem concerns not only Poland, but also the whole of Europe or even the world, concludes Tomkow.

SEE ALSO: First death from new H3N8 bird flu strain

Scarlet fever – symptoms, course and treatment

Scarlet fever, also known as scarlet fever, is a bacterial disease caused by infection with group A streptococci. You can get infected with it from patients with scarlet fever and tonsillitis – both through the droplet route and contact with objects or foods infected by the patient. It mainly affects children. The first symptoms of scarlet fever are observed 12 to 96 hours after infection.

The most common symptoms of scarlet fever are: severe and sudden sore throat, headache and abdominal pain, fever, tonsillitis and enlarged lymph nodes. The throat takes on an intense red color, and a clearly visible white coating collects on the tongue. After about four days, the affected tongue also turns red and warts form on its surface. Scarlet fever is also often accompanied by a small rash and subsequent peeling of the skin.

The basis of treatment of scarlet fever is the implementation of antibiotic therapy. Patients are also given fever-reducing drugs and lozenges with analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Proper hydration of the body is also important.

SEE ALSO: WHO: measles is becoming a threat in every part of the world

TVN24.pl, PAP, WHO, Sanita Informazione, Rai News, hpsc.ie, gov.uk

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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