There have been cases reported of Scarlet fever in eastern Nebraska. Dr. Kari Simonsen is the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Division Chief of pediatric Infectious Disease and says Scarlet fever used to be a common and serious childhood illness but isn’t seen often today.
Dr. Simonsen says, “There has been quite a bit of strep throat going around in the Omaha metro area right now. it is most commonly seen in school aged children and so that is the population we’ve seen the most cases. Sometimes they end up with a rash, red and rough, almost a like a sandpaper feel. When that rash occurs together with the sore throat we call it Scarlet fever.”
Dr. Simonsen says prior to the antibiotic era Scarlet fever was considered a severe disease because there was no treatment. She said her favorite literary reference is the book, The Velveteen Rabbit where a child was ill for a prolonged time with Scarlet fever. These stories were prior to antibiotic availability and that is why the disease is much less common today.
Dr. Simonson says if you feel your child might have a group A strep infection it is a good idea to have the child tested. There is a rare complication from strep infections known as rheumatic fever. She says this is another disease we heard much more about prior to antibiotics. She says rheumatic fever can be associated with long-term heart problems and so strep infections need to be treated as soon as possible. She says this is one of the times that antibiotics are important, needed and helpful.