What are Strep A and scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria called Group A streptococci (Strep A). The bacteria usually cause a mild infection that can be easily treated with antibiotics.
In very rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).
Usual symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- A fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel
- This can be more difficult to see on darker skin, but will still have a sandpapery feel
Why is there an increase in cases this winter?
Although there are more cases of Strep A infection compared to normal at this time of year, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says there's no evidence that this is caused by a new strain.
It's likely to be down to high amounts of circulating bacteria and more social mixing.