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Suspected case of severe paediatric scarlet fever investigated

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (March 5) investigating a suspected case of severe paediatric scarlet fever involving an 11-year-old girl.

     The girl, with good past health, presented with fever, cough, sputum, runny nose, sore throat and vomiting on February 28 and sought medical consultation from a general practitioner on the same day. She developed skin rash on March 2 and was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital on the same day. Physical examination by her attending physician showed sandpaper rash and strawberry tongue.

     She developed shock the next day and was transferred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. She is currently in a serious condition. Her blood and throat swab culture results are pending.
     The CHP's investigation revealed that the girl did not have a recent travel history. Her family members are asymptomatic.

     Investigation continues.

     A CHP spokesman explained that scarlet fever is caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria and can be cured by appropriate antibiotics. The disease usually affects children between 2 to 8 years of age and presents as fever, sore throat and rash. The rash appears over the trunk and neck and spreads to the limbs, especially the armpits, elbows and groin. The illness is usually clinically mild but can be complicated by shock, heart and kidney diseases.

     "Scarlet fever is transmitted through either the respiratory route or direct contact with infected respiratory secretions," he said.

     People who suspect they have scarlet fever should consult their doctors.

     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, March 5, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:05


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