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Scarlet fever

Category: Illness or disabilities

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

Scarlet fever is a disease caused by exotoxin released by Streptococcus pyogenes.   The term scarlatina may be used interchangeably with scarlet fever, though it can be used to indicate one  less acute form of scarlet fever that appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Symptoms

The symptoms of scarlet fever include the following: 

  • Sore throat - and swollen glands in the neck. The tonsils and back of the throat may be covered with a whitish coating, or appear red, swollen, and dotted with whitish or yellowish specks of pus. Early in the infection, the tongue may have a whitish or yellowish coating 
  • Fever - at or above 101 °F (38.3 °C) 
  • Bright red tongue with a "strawberry" appearance 
  • A rash - The rash is the most striking sign of scarlet fever. It usually begins looking like a bad sunburn with tiny bumps, and it may itch. The rash usually appears first on the neck and face, often leaving a clear unaffected area around the mouth. It spreads to the chest and back, then to the rest of the body. In body creases, especially around the underarms and elbows, the rash forms classic red streaks (on very dark skin, the streaks may appear darker than the rest of the skin). Areas of rash usually turn white (or paler brown, with dark complected skin) when pressed on. By the sixth day of the infection, the rash usually fades, but the affected skin may begin to peel.  "This phase begins with flakes peeling from the face. Peeling from the palms and around the fingers occurs about a week later." Peeling also occurs in axilla, groin, and tips of the fingers and toes. 
  • Other - Also, an infected person may have chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

The complications of scarlet fever include septic complications due to the spread of the streptococcus in the blood. Septic complications—today rare—include ear and sinus infection, streptococcal pneumonia, empyema thoracis, meningitis and full-blown sepsis, upon which the condition may be called malignant scarlet fever.

The malignant syndrome of scarlet fever, includes renewed fever, renewed angina, septic ear, nose, and throat complications and kidney infection or rheumatic fever and is seen around the eighteenth day of untreated scarlet fever.

Cause

Scarlet fever is  caused by exotoxin released by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes.

Treatment

Once a major cause of death, the infection is now usually cured with a 10-day course of antibiotics, although a drug-resistant strain of scarlet fever has emerged in Hong Kong and China, accounting for at least two deaths in that city - the first such in over a decade. The mutant strain of the bacterium is about 60% resistant to the antibiotics.

How it works

Although some of the effects of  vomiting and diarrhea cause dehydration [see separate entry], the principal and primary cause of spiritual experiences is the fever that accompanies the illness – see fever and hyperthermia.

see also Bacterial infection

Related observations