Scarlet Fever

(Scarlatina)

Definition

Scarlet fever is an infection which produces a sore throat , fever, and a specific rash.
Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
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© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Causes

Scarlet fever is caused by specific bacteria. The bacteria produces a toxin that causes a rash. Scarlet fever usually develops in conjunction with strep throat .

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of getting scarlet fever include:
  • Untreated strep infection
  • Close contact with someone who has an untreated strep infection
  • Overcrowded conditions, such as a school or daycare

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:
  • High fever
  • Specific, spreading rash that feels like sand paper
  • Flushing in the face with paleness around the mouth
  • Red streaks, called Pastia's lines, on elbows, underarms, and body creases
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Chills
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Bright red tongue
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
In rare cases, untreated strep throat infection may cause:
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Kidney damage
  • Spread of the infection to other areas such as the ears, sinuses, or lungs
  • Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome
  • Local abscess

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may diagnose scarlet fever by the specific rash. Confirmation of scarlet fever can be done with a throat swab or rapid strep antigen detection test.

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