Scarlet fever, once a common infection, is now relatively rare. It is caused by a bacteria that produces a specific type of toxin. It produces a varcharacteristic red, rough rash, usually on the neck and chest.
Causes of Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever is by a strain of streptococcus, a microorganism. The bacteria usually develop in the throat or tonsils. They produce a specific type of toxin, called erythrogenic toxin. The toxin leads to the development of a bright red, rough skin rash and red, swollen tongue. The bacteria are transmitted by coughing. Strep infections do not usually progress to scarlet fever. In a group of people exposed to the same organism, some may develop scarlet fever, some will develop strep throat and others will not become sick, at all.
Signs and Symptoms of Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever usually produces a sudden sore throat. The tonsils in the back of the throat are commonly red and swollen and may have a whitish coating on them. Fever may be quite high. Swollen lymph nodes, or tender lumps, occur in the front of the neck. Cough and vomiting are often present. Within 12-24 hours a bright red, rough rash appears. It is usually on the neck and chest. The tongue becomes red and swollen. The rash and tongue swelling gradually subside.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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