Scarlet fever is an exotoxin-mediated disease caused by group A streptococcus, which also causes strep throat.
This is a contagious disease. You can be infected with this disease if you get in contact with the sick person who has streptococcus infection, as this germ will be carried in the mouth and nasal fluids.
Keep away children from those who are infected with scarlet fever, which is similar to strep throat in order to prevent this disease.
Rash is the primary symptom of scarlet fever with high fever and chills. The other symptoms include swelling of the neck glands, flushed face with paleness around the lips, sore throat, and strawberry tongue.
It is a benign course to diagnose and treat scarlet fever. If it is treated appropriately and promptly, rarely you may experience serious complications. On the other hand, if you neglected to treat or if the treatment is unsuccessful, it may lead to have severe complications.
The major late complications of scarlet fever if untreated are rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritis.
Rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritis with untreated scarlet fever:
Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease which develops after infection with group A streptococcus like scarlet fever and strep throat. It is estimated to be three percent for development of rheumatic fever in the patients with untreated streptococcus infection.
Rheumatic fever mainly occurs in the children between 6 and 15 years of age after approximately 20 days of scarlet fever or strep throat infection disappears. The patients who get rheumatic fever will likely develop repeated strep infections. In some cases, the streptococcus infection that caused rheumatic fever could not have any symptoms.
This rheumatic fever mainly affects the skin, brain, heart, and joints of the body with complications of heart failure, endocarditis, mitral and aortic stenosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
Another complication of scarlet fever is glomerulonephritis or poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis. Glomerulonephritis is an inflammatory condition, which cause damage to the small structures or glomeruli inside the kidneys, which helps in filtering the wastes and fluids from blood to form urine. This disease leads to long-term kidney damage.
Glomerulonephritis also develops after two to three weeks of streptococcal infection like scarlet fever/strep throat. Possible complications with glomerulonephritis are congestive heart failure, chronic renal failure, pulmonary edema, end-stage renal disease, acute renal failure, and hyperkalemia.
The other complications from untreated scarlet fever include bacteremia, pneumonia, osteomyelitis, glomerulonephritis, otitis media, septicemia, meningitis, mastoiditis, sinusitis, abscess, and even death.
However, with the proper treatment of scarlet fever by using antibiotics, you can reduce the chances of having complications. Once the swab test (throat culture) confirms the streptococcal infection, penicillin or amoxicillin will be prescribed for up to 10 days.
The patients who are allergic to penicillin will be treated with alternative antibiotic such as erythromycin or clindamycin. Some of the additional treatments for scarlet fever include paracetamol for fever, throat pain, and headache and oral histamines for itchiness and rash.
Make sure that you have completed the course of antibiotics and ensure that all the streptococcal infection cleared so as to prevent the complications of scarlet fever.