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  • Dr Geraint Preest

Measles and Scarlet fever

Both of these conditions are relatively uncommon but there have been increased numbers of cases in South Wales in recent months, so we thought we'd provide a brief blog, to give you some additional information and reliable references..


Measles is still quite uncommon and we don't see cases very often (indeed, many of the Trainee GPs who work with us have never seen a case of measles in real life). However, there have been outbreaks of measles in South Wales in recent months - according to this BBC News article, cases have been confirmed in Cardiff, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent. There is no "treatment" as such for measles and we're reliant on vaccination to prevent outbreaks. Unvaccinated young children are at the highest risk. Vaccination is useful in two ways - it can help to protect an individual from catching measles and it can help to stop the spread of measles in the community due to a thing called "herd immunity" (if lots of people are vaccinated, it makes it more difficult for the virus to spread between vaccinated individuals, so the few unvaccinated may not come into contact with the virus).

Patients with measles run a high temperature and have watery, runny eyes and nose. They develop a characteristic blotchy red rash that Doctors call "maculopapular" and characteristic little white spots (like grains of salt) inside the mouth on the inner cheek next to the molar teeth (called "Koplik spots"). You can see pictures of these in this article by DermNZ. One of the most reliable online articles about measles can be found at here. Measles is a problem because there can be serious (but fortunately rare) complications. The most important thing to do is to make sure that your children are vaccinated. Needless to say, all of our Doctors have made sure that their own children have been vaccinated.

Scarlet fever

Here's a short video from ITV This Morning about Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever is usually seen in the under 10s and the main symptoms are a sore throat and rash. The tongue often has a "strawberry" appearance and the rash feels rough like sandpaper when you run your fingers across it. You can see pictures of this and more reliable information by following this link at NHS Choices. There's also a good article, giving lots of useful information at Public Health Wales. Most cases are mild and it's treated with 10 days of antibiotics. Children with Scarlet Fever should be excluded from school/nursery for 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment.

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