Chickenpox and scarlet fever in children

25 Apr 2022

Letter from the UK health security agency (HSA)

Dear Colleague

I am writing to you today to draw your attention to the recent increase in routine childhood infectious diseases which we are currently observing across the country and in London.

Chickenpox and scarlet fever are two routine childhood infections which are currently seeing some resurgence; both are considered to be common, mild and of low public health risk. Further details for both infections are provided below, along with links to guidance and resources which are available to access online. In most situations, schools and childcare settings do not need to contact the UKHSA London Health Protection Team (HPT) about cases of chickenpox in their setting.

Routinely, outbreaks (two or more cases) of scarlet fever should be reported to the HPT so that the appropriate support can be provided, including advising parents to take children to the GP for antibiotic treatment where required (see Annex). However, coinfection of both chickenpox and scarlet fever carries an increased risk of complications due to invasive infection and requires more proactive management to prevent or mitigate the risk of severe disease.

Please ensure that you contact Raj Chowdhury promptly if:

  • There is a chickenpox outbreak at the same time as case(s) of scarlet fever.
  • There is evidence of severe disease - for example, a child is admitted to hospital.

Good infection prevention and control - maintaining an ongoing emphasis on environmental cleaning, hand and respiratory hygiene, and ensuring staff and children who are unwell remaining away from the setting, will help reduce transmission of most infections within your setting.

Further advice and guidance can be found online here, including updated advice on managing COVID-19 and other common childhood infections:

Yours sincerely

Dr Yvonne Young

Consultant in health protection, Acting Deputy Director, Health Protection UK Health Security Agency

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Last updated: 25 Apr 2022

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