Scarlet fever is an acute infectious disease. It also features a pinpoint rash that is common throughout the body.
Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria (streptococci). Sources of infection include both patients with scarlet fever itself, and patients with angina - the infection is transmitted by airborne droplets. Scarlet fever is usually ill in childhood.
If a person has once suffered scarlet fever, then he develops lifelong immunity to this disease. The incubation period for scarlet fever varies from one to twelve days. (The incubation period is the time from the moment of infection until the first signs of a disease are detected).
The tonsils are the gateway to infection. In addition, it is the tonsils that are the main breeding ground for the causative agent of scarlet fever. Streptococci produce a toxin that leads to acute inflammation of the skin - its upper layers. Streptococcus toxin enters the bloodstream and causes all the signs of scarlet fever. With scarlet fever, the tonsils, as well as the palatine arch and uvula, have a bright red color. In addition, pustules can form on the tonsils. All this is a characteristic feature of scarlet fever - a manifestation of damage to the oral cavity. There is a concept of "raspberry tongue" - the tongue with scarlet fever has a bright red color (saturation gets under the influence of toxins). Purulent sore throat with scarlet fever is a common phenomenon, accompanied by severe pain in the throat (especially when swallowing), a significant increase in body temperature and swelling of the lymph nodes.
Scarlet fever is transmitted by airborne droplets. This means that you can get infected with this disease by coughing, sneezing and just talking with a person with scarlet fever. Patients as sources of infection pose the greatest danger in the first days of the disease. Streptococci - the causative agents of scarlet fever - can enter the child's body through the objects of its use. The latter may include dishes, toys, food. And poorly washed hands can help the pathogen get into the body. In addition, you can get infected with scarlet fever from the carrier of its pathogen. Moreover, such a person often cannot imagine what is the carrier and that upon contact with him it is possible to become infected with scarlet fever (after all, he himself does not get sick).
Scarlet fever is ill once. After the transferred disease, stable immunity is developed, which protects a person from scarlet fever for the rest of his life.
Scarlet fever is a terrible childhood disease. This was considered (and it was quite logical) for many centuries, since a large number of children died as a result of this disease. For a long period of time, it was a fact that scarlet fever was confused with measles or rubella (after Hippocrates, this phenomenon can be observed for about 2000 years). The symptoms of scarlet fever were studied in detail and accordingly described only in 1675. The credit for this belongs to the doctor, whose surname is Sidenham. He gave the name to this disease: "scarlet fever", which in Russian means "purple fever". It is from the word "scarlet" ("purple") that the name of the disease, which is modern, was formed - scarlet fever. Now it is no longer possible to call scarlet fever very dangerous for a child. In our time, the nature of the occurrence of scarlet fever has been clarified and methods of its treatment have been developed. However, it is also impossible to call scarlet fever a simple disease - scarlet fever can give quite a lot of complications. As a result of the latter, if symptoms of scarlet fever are detected in a child, you must immediately consult a doctor (call him at home). Scarlet fever can be considered a childhood disease, since children are predominantly susceptible to its development. There are also cases when adults get sick with scarlet fever. The reason for this is their lack of immunity to this disease.
The onset of scarlet fever is acute. The temperature rises to 38-39 ° C, accompanied by chills. Typical signs are headache, sore throat, and general weakness. A profuse rash reveals itself by the end of the first day of illness. The face of a person with scarlet fever is very characteristic - there is a rash (pink) on the skin of the temples and forehead, the nose and chin are pale, and a bright blush appears on the cheeks. The cherry-colored lips are especially "remarkable". The patient's fever and rash persist for two to four days, after which the temperature drops and the rash gradually disappears (the child's well-being may improve even without taking any medications). On the fifth or sixth day of scarlet fever, the skin at the site of the former rash begins to peel off (especially peeling is expressed on the soles and palms. In these areas, the skin can peel off in whole layers. This peeling continues for two to three weeks. From the third day of the disease, scarlet fever in the blood increases the content of eosinophils However, with a severe form of scarlet fever, the opposite phenomenon may well be observed, that is, a decrease in the content of eosinophils and even their complete disappearance.
A rash is a characteristic feature of scarlet fever. As mentioned above, a profuse rash reveals itself by the end of the first day of illness. At this point, it is localized on the upper body and neck. However, on the second day, the rash is already observed throughout the body - only the place around the nose and mouth is free of it. This is an abundant punctate rash - the size of each speck ranges from one to two millimeters, the most intense rash is in the armpits, as well as on the elbows. Often, the rash is accompanied by itching.
A characteristic feature of scarlet fever is the enlargement of the lymph nodes. The maxillary lymph nodes noticeably increase in size. They can be felt on the right and left at the level of the corners of the lower jaw. When palpating, it is easy to notice that these lymph nodes are not fused between themselves and the skin.
Scarlet fever can cause complications. These primarily include inflammation of the middle ear, rheumatism, inflammation of the paranasal sinuses. You need to know that even if scarlet fever is mild, it can give serious complications, which can be early and late. The early complications of scarlet fever include the spread of infection to organs and tissues. As a result, abscesses may form, inflammation of the middle ear, etc. may develop. In severe scarlet fever, an infection along the sagging channel can get into distant organs and tissues. In this case, purulent inflammation may also develop in them. This can be, for example, inflammation of the kidneys, the action of the toxin on them (as well as on the heart) can cause disruption of their proper functioning. This complication can be attributed to serious, therefore, a doctor's consultation is necessary. However, the duration of its course is usually short. Severe forms of scarlet fever can also cause damage to the blood vessels. The latter often leads to the occurrence of internal bleeding, among which the greatest danger is cerebral bleeding. Allergies are late complications of this disease, such reactions, as a rule, can occur due to improper treatment of scarlet fever. Allergic reactions are very formidable complications in which the immune system, in simple terms, not only provides protection from external aggressors, but also begins to affect the tissues of the body itself. The most common late complications of scarlet fever include the following. First, it is articular rheumatism. This disease can manifest itself two weeks after recovery. There is swelling in the large joints. Pain arises. If this complication does not extend to the heart, then such rheumatism does not have serious consequences for the body. Secondly, it is rheumatic heart valve disease. This process is irreversible, so this complication can be neutralized only with the help of surgical treatment. Thirdly, late (rather severe) complications include allergic kidney damage. It is accompanied by a new rise in temperature (after recovery from scarlet fever), back pain. Fourthly, a late complication of scarlet fever is an allergic brain damage. It can develop two to three weeks after recovery. The complication is accompanied by the appearance of movements in the limbs that cannot be controlled, and a violation of the gait. Defects in speech are often observed. The manifestations of this complication can remain for life.
Erased scarlet fever is an atypical form. With this disease, all the characteristic symptoms of scarlet fever are either absent or rudimentary developed. The latter means that the symptoms are "underdeveloped" and poorly expressed. Sometimes the entrance gate of infection is not the tonsils, but the skin. In this case, they speak of the extrabuccal form of this disease. With this form of scarlet fever, angina is absent.
Scarlet fever is treated at home. Exceptions related to the need for hospitalization apply to patients with moderate and severe scarlet fever. In addition, those patients who are in direct contact with children aged three months to seven years, as well as with schoolchildren of the first and second grades, who at an earlier age did not have had scarlet fever, are subject to hospitalization. The treatment of scarlet fever is based on taking antibiotics (it can be penicillin, amoxiclav, amoxicillin and others). Antibiotics are used for five to seven days. The feasibility of using antibiotics is due to the fact that scarlet fever is a bacterial infection (as opposed to, say, measles and rubella, which are viral infections). In severe cases of scarlet fever, infusion therapy is prescribed. Its purpose is to reduce intoxication. Food should contain a limited amount of protein and be semi-liquid or liquid. The limited content of proteins in food is necessary to avoid the manifestations of allergic reactions of scarlet fever.
Scarlet fever requires isolation of the patient. This is necessary in order to prevent an increase in the number of cases. The patient must be isolated in a separate room. He should also be provided with his own towel and dishes. Isolation with scarlet fever continues throughout the illness. Its duration should not be less than ten days from the moment the first signs of the disease appear. In addition, as for children who attend any preschool institutions, as well as the first two grades of primary school, additional isolation is necessary for them from the children's collective for twelve days after the final recovery. If a child (attending primary classes or preschool institutions) has been in contact with a patient with scarlet fever and has not had this disease before, then his isolation is necessary for a period of seven to seventeen days (depending on the duration of contact - single or permanent).