Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do people still get Scarlet Fever?"
Can I still get it now? I read an old description of it and it sounded wierdly like some symptoms I have.
The short answer to this question is yes, people can still get Scarlet fever now. However with that being said, the treatment for scarlet fever is no different than the antibiotic therapy for bacterial pharyngitis, or "strep" throat, so it is usually treated before the disease process is able to proceed to the level that you read about in historical books or on the internet. Scarlet fever used to be a significant cause of mortality in the pre-antibiotic era, but as I mentioned above, with the discovery/invention of penicillin these days are (thankfully) well behind us. The classic description of scarlet fever presents with sore throat, fever, a bright red "strawberry tongue" (has the red bumpy appearance of a strawberry), and a characteristic fine bumpy red rash that presents about 12-24 hours after the onset of the fever and blanches with pressure (the redness goes away for a couple seconds when you push on it before returning). After 3 or 4 days the rash goes away, and desquamation (skin peeling) occurs. Scarlet fever is caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes which is a fairly common bacterial pathogen within the head and neck (Strep throat). It secretes an exotoxin (exotoxin is a toxin that is manufactured by a bacteria and secreted outside of itself, vs an endotoxin which is held within a bacteria and released when it dies and breaks down) which is what has all of the aforementioned detrimental effects (rash, fever, etc). I would recommend starting with your primary care physician to get checked out if you have any or all of the above mentioned symptoms. I hope this helps.
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