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Fatal case of scarlet fever investigated

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 30) is investigating a fatal case of scarlet fever involving a seven-year-old girl.

     The patient presented with fever, sore throat, vomiting and skin rash on May 20. She consulted a private doctor but her condition deteriorated. She was referred and admitted to Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) on May 27. Her condition further deteriorated and complicated with toxic shock syndrome. She passed away on May 29.

     Laboratory tests on the patient's blood and blister fluid specimens by QMH both yielded positive results for Streptococus pyogenes (Group A).

     The CHP's investigation revealed that the girl did not have recent travel history. Her home and school contacts were asymptomatic. Investigation continues.

     A CHP spokesman explained that scarlet fever is caused by Group A Streptococus bacteria. It can be cured with an appropriate antibiotic. This disease usually affects children between two and eight years of age. It presents as fever, sore throat and rash. The rash appears over the trunk and neck and spreads to the limbs, especially armpits, elbows and the groin.

     "Typically scarlet fever rash does not involve the face. It is transmitted through either a respiratory route or direct contact with infected respiratory secretions," he said.

     People who are suspected to have scarlet fever should consult their doctors.

     A total of 268 cases of scarlet fever have been reported so far this year. There were 128, 187 and 235 cases in 2010, 2009 and 2008 respectively. No fatal cases were reported in the past five years.

     To prevent infection, members of the public are advised to:
* maintain good personal and environmental hygiene;
* keep hands clean and wash hands properly;
* wash hands when they are dirtied by respiratory secretions, e.g. after sneezing;
* cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing and dispose of nasal and mouth discharge properly; and
* maintain good ventilation.

Ends/Monday, May 30, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:49


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