Epidemiological features and control of an outbreak of scarlet fever in a Perth primary school
Communicable diseases intelligence quarterly report
Scarlet fever was associated with feared outbreaks and mortality in the 19th Century. It occurs sporadically in modern society and infection is readily treated with antibiotics. We report on a scarlet fever outbreak in children attending a primary school in Perth, Western Australia, in late 2003. A total of 13 cases were identified over a five week period. Six of the cases were pre-primary children (ages 4 to 5) from the same class of 26 children (attack rate 23.1%). Three of the remaining
... the remaining seven cases were older siblings of pre-primary cases who developed scarlet fever after their younger siblings. Screening of the children and teachers from the two pre-primary classes at the school yielded 12 positive pharyngeal swabs for group A Streptococcus. Emm-typing of the screening isolates indicated that a common strain was circulating within the outbreak pre-primary class, with four of six isolates identified as emm-type 3. The overall group A Streptococcus carriage rate in screened students in this class was 31.6 per cent and the carriage rate for emm-type 3 was 21.1 per cent. Carriers were treated with oral penicillin V to eradicate carriage and control the outbreak. No further cases of scarlet fever were reported after the treatment of pharyngeal carriers. Outbreaks of scarlet fever still occur in young children and identification and treatment of carriers may still be valuable.