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Scarlet fever is a disease caused by an exotoxin released by Streptococcus pyogenes Group A and occurs rarely with impetigo or other streptococcal infections. It is characterized by sore throat, fever, a 'strawberry' tongue, and a fine sandpaper rash over the upper body that may spread to cover almost the entire body. Scarlet fever is not rheumatic fever, but may progress into that condition. The rate of development of rheumatic fever in individuals with untreated streptococcal infection is estimated to be 3%. The rate of development is far lower in individuals who have received antibiotic treatment.
Additional recommended knowledge
Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) is responsible for scarlet fever. It can also cause simple angina, erysipelas and serious toxin-mediated syndromes like necrotizing fasciitis and the so-called streptococcal toxic shock-like syndrome. The virulence of group A streptococcus seems to be increasing lately. The exanthem of scarlatina is thought to be due to erythrogenic toxin production by specific streptococcal strains in a nonimmune patient. Along with erythrogenic toxins, the Group A streptococcus produces several toxins and enzymes. Two of the most important are the streptolysins O and S. Streptolysin O, an hemolytic, thermolabile and immunogenic toxin, is the base of an assay for scarlatina and erysipelas - the anti-streptolysin O titer.
This disease was also once known as Scarlatina (from the Italian scarlattina). Many novels depicting life before the nineteenth century (see Scarlet fever in popular culture below) describe scarlet fever as an acute disease being followed by many months spent in convalescence. The convalescence was probably due to complications with rheumatic fever. Prior to an understanding of how streptococcus was spread, it was also not uncommon to destroy or burn the personal effects of a person afflicted with scarlet fever to prevent transmission to other people.
Signs and symptoms
Early symptoms indicating the onset of scarlet fever can include:  
Diagnosis of scarlet fever is clinical. The blood tests shows marked leukocytosis with neutrophilia and conservated or increased eosinophils, high ESR and CRP , and elevation of antistreptolysin O titer. Blood culture is rarely positive, but the streptococci can usually be demonstrated in throat culture. The complications of scarlet fever include septic complications due to spread of streptococcus in blood and immune-mediated complications due to an aberrant immune response. Septic complications, today rare, include otitis, sinusitis, streptococcal pneumonia, empyema thoracis, meningitis and full-blown septicaemia ( malignant scarlet fever). Immune complications include acute glomerulonephritis, rheumatic fever and erythema nodosum. The secondary scarlatinous disease (or secondary malignant syndrome of scarlet fever) included renewed fever, renewed angina, septic ORL complications and nephritis or rheumatic fever and is seen around the 18th day of untreated scarlet fever.
Other than the occurrence of the diarrhea, the treatment and course of scarlet fever are no different from those of any strep throat. In case of penicillin allergy, clindamycin or erythromycin can be used with success.
Scarlet fever in popular culture
Categories: Pediatrics | Dermatology | Bacterial diseases
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Scarlet_fever". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|