Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: John Mersch, MD, FAAP
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

What is the prognosis of scarlet fever? What are the long-term effects of scarlet fever?

The prognosis for scarlet fever, when treated appropriately with antibiotics, is usually excellent. Patients recover completely and the skin symptoms progressively decrease over several weeks. Untreated scarlet fever has a worse prognosis and before the use of antibiotics, scarlet fever had a mortality (death) rate of about 15%-20%. Currently, the mortality rate is less than 1% because of early recognition and early treatment with antibiotics. In general, appropriately diagnosed and treated scarlet fever results in few if any long-term effects. However, if complications develop for whatever reason, problems that include kidney damage, hepatitis, vasculitis, septicemia, congestive heart failure, and even death may occur.

Is it possible to prevent scarlet fever? Is there a scarlet fever vaccine?

The best way to prevent or lessen the chance of getting scarlet fever is hand washing. In addition, avoiding communal use of utensils, towels, or other personal items should be avoided. Transmission of the disease is person to person, usually by droplets, so direct contact with infected individuals should be avoided. Patients who are treated with antibiotics and have had no fever for about 24 hours are considered to be noncontagious. No vaccine is available for humans to prevent scarlet fever.

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease

REFERENCES:

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Scarlet Fever: A Group A Streptococcal Infection." Jan. 6, 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/Features/ScarletFever/>.

Zabawski Jr., Edward J. "Scarlet Fever." Medscape.com. Apr. 30, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1053253-overview>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2016

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