Scarlet fever is on the rise in the UK and Wales is one of the worst affected areas.

Scarlet fever is a contagious infection - treatable by antibiotics - mostly commonly found in young children, although it can also impact adults.

It most often occurs in the winter and spring with symptoms including a rash, a sore throat, flushed cheeks and swollen tongue.

Scarlet fever is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or group A strepococci (GAS) bacteria (Strep A), according to the website.

Scarlet fever is a notifiable disease in England and Wales meaning health professionals must inform local health protection teams of suspected cases.

A recent report from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) revealed so far in 2023 there have been 30,194 reports of the infection across the country.

This is a significant rise in cases compared to previous years (at the same time) with 18,813 recorded in 2022 and 1909 in 2021.

Reports of Scarlet Fever in North Wales

The latest results from UKHSA showed there were 55 reported cases in Wales in the week ending October 29 out of 317 UK-wide.

Newport, in south Wales, recorded the most cases of scarlet fever in Wales during that period with nine. 

There were only limited reports of the infection in North Wales areas like Wrexham (1) and Flintshire (2).

Number of Scarlet Fever cases in North Wales

The number of Scarlet Fever cases (for the week ending October 29) in each area of North Wales, according to UKHSA, were as follows:

  • Anglesey - 3
  • Conwy - 1
  • Denbighshire - 0
  • Flintshire - 2
  • Gwynedd - 0
  • Wrexham - 1

Scarlet Fever Symptoms

The first signs of scarlet fever are flu-like symptoms, according to the NHS, which includes:

  • High temperature
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck)

The NHS adds: "A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later. It looks like small, raised bumps and starts on the chest and tummy, then spreads. The rash makes your skin feel rough, like sandpaper.

"On white skin, the rash looks pink or red. On brown and black skin it might be harder to see a change in colour, but you can still feel the rash and see the raised bumps.

"A white coating also appears on the tongue. This peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps."

The rash does not usually appear on the face but the cheeks can look red. 

The NHS said symptoms are the same for children and adults, although scarlet fever is less common in adults.