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5 January 2023
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Group A strep and scarlet fever infections – reminder

The Department for Education (DfE) is working closely with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), who are leading on the response to an increased number of cases of Group A streptococcus (Strep A) and scarlet fever.

Latest data from UKHSA continues to show an out-of-season increase in scarlet fever and Group A streptococcus infections.

Scarlet fever is caused by the bacteria Strep A. The bacteria usually cause a mild infection that can be easily treated with antibiotics. There is no evidence that a new strain is circulating and the increase is most likely related to high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing.

Strep A infections can cause a range of symptoms that parents should be aware of, including:

• Sore throat
• Headache
• Fever
• A fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel

On darker skin the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel.

If a child becomes unwell with these symptoms, parents are advised to contact their GP practice or contact NHS 111 (which operates a 24/7 service) to seek advice. If the child seems seriously unwell parents are advised to call 999 or go to A&E.
If a child has scarlet fever, the advice is to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
Early years settings and schools should contact their UKHSA health protection team if there is an outbreak of two or more scarlet fever cases within 10 days of each other and the affected individuals have a link, such as being in the same class or year group. Information for staff on how and when to do this can be found linked below.

If there are confirmed or suspected cases in an education or childcare setting, there is no reason for children to be kept at home if they are well.

To prevent the spread of Strep A, UKHSA advises children, young people and staff to implement good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

More information is available on GOV.UK and DfE’s Education Hub. Resources will be made available in due course on the online resource centre linked below.

Councils are encouraged to share this information as appropriate.

Find your local health protection team:




More information:

Education hub:

Resource Centre:

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