Scarlet Fever and Group A Streptococcus

Scarlet Fever is usually a mild illness that is common in children in the winter months. It can also affect adults, particularly if they have other health issues (e.g. older frail people, women after pregnancy, patients who are immunocompromised, or immunosuppressed, concurrent chickenpox or influenza, people who inject drugs or are alcohol dependent),

Scarlet Fever is caused by a bacteria caused Streptococcus A and in rare occasions this can lead to an invasive form of the condition that can lead to more severe illness.. There have been higher rates of both non-invasive and invasive infections of Strep A in this Winter, particularly in children aged under 10 years old.

For information from the NHS on Scarlet Fever and what to look out for please see:

If you suspect you or your child has Scarlet Fever then please consider going to NHS 111 on line or telephone 111. If you still have concerns then contact the surgery to arrange an appointment.

Please be aware that our phone lines are particularly busy at this time and we apologise in advance if it is difficult to get through. Our team will try to answer the phones as quickly as they can.



If Scarlet Fever is suspected then the doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics. They may also want to take swab from the back of the throat.

Patients who have been diagnosed with Scarlet fever should avoid contact with others (i.e not go to school or nursery or work) until 24 hours after the antibiotics have started.

Antibiotics courses should be taken in full and will usually be for 10 days (but this depends on the antbiotic prescribed).

We are aware there are sometimes intermittent supply issues of some medication. We kindly ask patients to call/visit different pharmacies who may have outstanding stock and may use different wholesalers before speaking to us for an alternative. You can find details of local pharmacies here:

Liquid antibiotics are particularly in short supply so your GP may prescribe tablets or capsules that can be swallowed whole, crushed or mixed with water. See information on how to do this for commonly prescribed antibotics: Using solid oral dosage form antibiotics in children – SPS - Specialist Pharmacy Service – The first stop for professional medicines advice

There is also advice on how to encourage children to swallow tablets or capsules whole: Carer-leaflet.pdf (


Please read the frequently asked questions

What is Group A Strep?

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a common bacteria – lots of people carry it without being unwell.

It can cause many common mild infections, including sore throats or scarlet fever, which can be easily treated with antibiotics.

How is it spread?

GAS spreads by close contact with an infected person. It can be passed on through coughs and sneezes, or from a wound.

What infections does GAS cause?

The bacteria usually causes a mild infection, producing sore throats or scarlet fever, which can be easily treated with antibiotics.

What is invasive Group A Strep?

This is when the bacteria gets into the bloodstream and causes serious illness – called invasive Group A strep (iGAS). These cases are very rare.

Symptoms of mild GAS infections

Symptoms of mild infections include:

  • sore throat
  • fever
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • and in cases of scarlet fever, a rash and a white coating on the tongue, which peels leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in bumps
When to contact us
  • If your child is not recovering after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection, and you are concerned they are becoming more unwell
  • If your child is drinking much less (50% less) than normal · If your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more, or shows other signs of dehydration
  • If your baby is under three months and has a temperature of 38C, or is three to six months old and has a temperature of 39C or higher
  • If your child is very tired or irritable
Call 999 or go to A&E if
  • your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • there are pauses when your child breathes
  • your child’s tongue or lips are blue, or their skin is mottled/pale
  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake
  • your child has a weak, continuous, or high-pitched cry