Parents are being warned to stay on guard against scarlet fever after a spike in the number of cases across England in recent weeks.
The warning has been issued by Public Health England (PHE) after nearly 40 new cases of the illness were reported across the south west last week.
Parents are being told to look out for the symptoms of the disease to make sure they catch cases early and reduce the risk of complications.
The symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.
This is followed by a fine red rash which typically first appears on the chest and stomach, rapidly spreading to other parts of the body.
Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: The first symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat and fever which may be accompanied by a headache, nausea and vomiting.
“Between 12 to 48 hours after this, a characteristic fine, sandpapery rash develops, often appearing first on the chest or stomach. Cases are more common in children although adults of all ages can also develop scarlet fever.
“Individuals who think they or their child may have scarlet fever should consult their GP. Symptoms usually clear up after a week and in the majority of cases remain reasonably mild providing a course of antibiotics is completed to reduce the risk of complications.
“As scarlet fever is highly contagious, children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid passing on the infection.
“For families and friends caring for someone with scarlet fever, the risk of spread can be reduced through frequent hand washing and ensuring clothes, bedding, towels and cutlery are not shared between members of the household.”
If parents think their child has scarlet fever, they should contact their GP or NHS 111 as soon as possible.