Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

scarlet fever

scarlet fever or scarlatina, an acute, communicable infection, caused by group A hemolytic streptococcal bacteria (see streptococcus) that produce an erythrogenic toxin. The disease is now uncommon, probably because antibiotic therapy has lessened the likelihood of spread. It occurs in young children, usually between two and eight years of age, and is spread by droplet spray from carriers and from individuals who have contracted the disease. The incubation period is from three to five days, and infectivity lasts about two weeks. Scarlet fever may be mild or severe, but it is rarely fatal if treated. Typical symptoms are sore throat, headache, fever, flushed face with a ring of pallor about the mouth, red spots in the mouth, coated tongue with raw beefy appearance and inflamed papillae underneath it (strawberry tongue), and a characteristic eruption on the body. The streptococcal bacterium that causes scarlet fever is identical to the streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat) organism, the difference being the production of a toxin to which the patient is susceptible in the case of scarlet fever. Severe infections are occasionally complicated by rheumatic fever, kidney disease, ear infection, pneumonia, meningitis, or encephalitis. Mild scarlet fever requires only bed rest, antibiotics, analgesics or antipyretics, and symptomatic treatment. Antibiotics, immune serum, and antitoxin may be required for severe cases.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Epidemic Streets: Infectious Disease and the Rise of Preventive Medicine, 1856-1900
Anne Hardy.
Clarendon Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Scarlet Fever"
Mortality Rates 1910-1920 with Population of the Federal Censuses of 1910 and 1920 and Intercensal Estimates of Population
Richard Corcoran Lappin; William Horace Davis.
Government Printing Office, 1923
Librarian’s tip: "Scarlet Fever" begins on p. 45
Immunization: The Reality behind the Myth
Walene James.
Bergin & Garvey, 1995 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Are Immunizations Effective? (The Statistical Mill)"
Dangerous Places: Health, Safety, and Archaeology
David A. Poirier; Kenneth L. Feder.
Bergin and Garvey, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "The Performance and Patterns of Infectious Disease in Historical America" begins on p. 83
Mortality in an Early Ontario Community: Belleville 1876-1885
Sawchuk, Larry A.; Burke, Stacie D. A.
Urban History Review, Vol. 29, No. 1, October 2000
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