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Scarlet fever is a rash illness caused by a bacterium called Group A Streptococcus (GAS)
The disease most commonly occurs with GAS pharyngitis (“strep throat”) [See also Strep Throat fact sheet]. Scarlet fever can occur at any age, but it is most frequent among school-aged children.
Symptoms usually start 1 to 5 days after exposure and include:
Scarlet fever is usually spread from person to person by direct contact
The strep bacterium is found in the nose and/or throat of persons with strep throat, and can be spread to the next person through the air with sneezing or coughing.
People with scarlet fever can spread the disease to others until 24 hours after treatment.
Treatment of scarlet fever is important
Persons with scarlet fever can be treated with antibiotics. Treatment is important to prevent serious complications such as rheumatic fever and kidney disease. Infected children should be excluded from child care or school until 24 hours after starting treatment.
Scarlet fever and strep throat can be prevented
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