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Scarlet Fever Essay, Research Paper

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Scarlet Fever

Strep throat and scarlet fever are different forms of a bacterial disease caused by infection with group A (beta-hemolytic) streptococcus. When the bacteria infect the throat, the illness is called strep throat.

Streptococci can also produce a toxin, which results in a distinctive skin rash. When this occurs, the illness is now called scarlet fever.

Scarlet fever was once very common among young children ages 2 to 10, but now it is relatively rare. The reason for this remains unknown, especially since there has been no decrease in the number of cases of strep throat or strep skin infections.

Scarlet fever is caused be a toxin that certain strains of streptococcal bacteria release when they infect the upper respiratory tract. It passes from person to person the same way strep throat does-through close contact between an infected and a non-infected person. When a child with the infection coughs or sneezes, bacteria- laden drops is released. Children playing face to face, playing together and sharing toys and eating utensils can easily pass the infection back and forth.

The first symptoms of scarlet fever include a high fever, headache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. These may develop suddenly. Occasionally, abdominal pain and vomiting develop one or two days before the rash appears.

The rash consists of tiny, red bumps. It begins on the trunk and spreads outward. It can cover the entire body in a matter of hours or days, giving the skin a rough sandpaper-like texture. The rash normally doesn’t spread over mouth area although the lips as well as the palms and soles turn bright red.

In the beginning of the illness the tongue turns white with small flecks of red on it, however as the disease progresses the tongue becomes very swollen and turns red. Another symptom of scarlet fever are deep red streaks that appear in the armpits, elbow crooks, groin and behind the knees.

Scarlet fever can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. If left untreated (not taking all prescribed medications), the infection may lead to rheumatic fever or kidney disease.

To help prevent yourself from being infected with scarlet fever avoid close contact with infected people until they have completed at least two days of a ten day course of antibiotic therapy. Do not drink raw unpasteurized milk or eat products made from raw milk. Exclude people with the illness from food handling.

In most cases, all signs of the scarlet fever rash are gone within two weeks, and there is no long-term scarring. Proper nutrition boosts the body’s immune system and helps it fight the infection. Drink lots of fluids to help flush out toxins and prevent dehydration. And remember, get lots of rest!


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