Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever

, EMedicine2|emerg|518
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Scarlet fever is a disease caused by an exotoxin released by "Streptococcus pyogenes". It is characterized by sore throat, fever, a 'strawberry tongue', and a fine sandpaper rash over the upper body that may spread to cover the uvula (Forchheimer spots).
*Bright red tongue with a "strawberry" appearance

*Characteristic rash, which::*is fine, red, and rough-textured; it upon pressure:*appears 12–48 hours after the fever:*generally starts on the chest, axilla (armpits), and behind the ears:*is worse in the skin folds:*Pastia lines (where the rash becomes confluent in the arm pits and groins) appear and persist after the rash is gone
*The rash begins to fade three to four days after onset and desquamation (peeling) begins. "This phase begins with flakes peeling from the face. Peeling from the palms and around the fingers occurs about a week later ."cite journal | author=Dyne P and McCartan K | title=Pediatrics, Scarlet Fever | journal=eMedicine | id=EMedicine2|emerg|402 | date=October 19, 2005] Peeling also occurs in axilla, groin, and tips of the fingers and toes.cite journal | author=Balentine J and Kessler D | title=Scarlet Fever | journal=eMedicine | id=EMedicine2|emerg|518 | date=March 7, 2006]

Diagnosis of scarlet fever is clinical. The blood tests shows marked leukocytosis with neutrophilia and conservated or increased eosinophils, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP), and elevation of antistreptolysin O titer. Blood culture is rarely positive, but the streptococci can usually be demonstrated in throat culture. The complications of scarlet fever include septic complications due to spread of streptococcus in blood and immune-mediated complications due to an aberrant immune response. Septic complications, today rare, include ear and sinus infection, streptococcal pneumonia, empyema thoracis, meningitis and full-blown sepsis, upon which the condition may be called malignant scarlet fever.

Immune complications include acute glomerulonephritis, rheumatic fever and erythema nodosum. The secondary scarlatinous disease, or secondary malignant syndrome of scarlet fever, includes renewed fever, renewed angina, septic ear, nose, and throat complications and kidney infection or rheumatic fever and is seen around the eighteenth day of untreated scarlet fever.


Other than the occurrence of the diarrhea, the treatment and course of scarlet fever are no different from those of any strep throat. In case of penicillin allergy, clindamycin or erythromycin can be used with success.

Popular culture references

* "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott (1868) - Beth contracts scarlet fever, seems to recover, but progresses to rheumatic fever and ultimately succumbs to congestive heart failure.
* "By the Shores of Silver Lake" by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Laura's sisters Mary, Carrie, and Grace and their mother contract scarlet fever, the family recovers, but Mary is left blind as a result.
* "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams (1922) - The main protagonist, a small boy, contracts scarlet fever and his toys are all burned. Indeed, the velveteen rabbit itself, the boy's favorite toy, was going to be burned by a nurse, but at the book's climax, the toy rabbit comes alive and joins the "real" rabbits outside in the garden.
* "All-of-a-Kind Family" by Sydney Taylor - Four of the five sisters come down with it, and the house goes under quarantine; no lasting harm to any of the patients.
* "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1818) - Victor Frankenstein's adoptive sister Elizabeth contracts scarlet fever and recovers. But Victor's mother, who contracts the scarlet fever from Elizabeth, dies.
* "Anna Karenin;" By Leo Tolstoy - All six of the Oblonsky children contract scarlet fever but are nursed through it succesfully by their mother Dolly and aunt Kitty.
* "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" (1958) by Elizabeth George Spears - A young girl from Barbados is accused of giving scarlet fever to her cousins by using witchcraft.
* "Fever Dream" by Ray Bradbury - the young protagonist is diagnosed with scarlet fever, though it appears to mutate into something much more sinister.
*"Private Peaceful" by Michael Morpurgo - Molly gets scarlet fever and survives.
* The first episode of the television show "Ozzy & Drix" featured a villain named Scarlet Fever, who died after getting sucked into the spleen and shredded.
* In the 1989 film "See No Evil, Hear No Evil", David Lyons, a deaf man played by Gene Wilder explains to Wally Karue, a blind man played by Richard Pryor that he became deaf as a result of getting scarlet fever in high school.
* In the 2001 film "Osmosis Jones", the main antagonist is a strain of scarlet fever known as "Thrax," whose goal is to "get his own chapter in the medical book" after taking out his host, Frank, in 48 hours. He had the ability to light fire to anything he touched, but was killed when he fell into a jar of rubbing alcohol. Thrax is voiced by Laurence Fishburne.
* An American soldier in The Steel Helmet lost all of his hair as a child due to Scarlet Fever.
* Anna Jones, mother of the young Henry 'Indiana' Jones died of Scarlet Fever during the year of 1912.
*In his memoir Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi describes his stay at the Auschwitz concentration camp. In the later part of the book [Levi, Primo: "Survival in Auschwitz", page 151. Simon & Schuster, 1996] , he mentions that he has developed Scarlet fever.
* "Scarlet Fever" is also the title of a 1983 hit single by Kenny Rogers.fact|date=March 2008
* "Casualty 1907" Episode 3 (BBC) Probationer Bennett contracts Scarlet Fever after caring for an infected patient. She ended up having to sweat it out along with Saline solution injections.
* "The Moffats by Eleanor Estes (1945) - "The youngest son, Rufus Moffat, gets scarlet fever. The whole Moffat family is under quarantine for several weeks while Rufus recovers. Mama, Sylvie, Jane, and Joe go through one night when they worry that Rufus might die."
* "Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian (1981) - " Toms wife dies of Scarlet fever shortly after giving birth. The baby later dies of scarlatine also.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Scarlet fever — Scarlet Scar let, a. Of the color called scarlet; as, a scarlet cloth or thread. [1913 Webster] {Scarlet admiral} (Zo[ o]l.), the red admiral. See under {Red}. Scarlet bean (Bot.), a kind of bean ({Phaseolus multiflorus}) having scarlet flowers;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • scarlet fever — ► NOUN ▪ an infectious bacterial disease affecting especially children, and causing fever and a scarlet rash …   English terms dictionary

  • scarlet fever — n. an acute contagious disease, esp. of children, caused by hemolytic streptococci and characterized by sore throat, fever, and a scarlet rash …   English World dictionary

  • scarlet fever — noun uncount a disease mainly affecting children that causes a fever, sore throat, and red spots on your skin …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • scarlet fever — also scar|la|ti|na [ˌska:ləˈti:nə US ˌska:r ] n [U] a serious infectious illness that mainly affects children, causing a sore throat and red spots on your skin …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • scarlet fever — Pathol. a contagious febrile disease caused by streptococci and characterized by a scarlet eruption. [1670 80] * * * or scarlatina Acute infectious disease caused by some types of streptococcus bacteria. Fever, sore throat, headache, and, in… …   Universalium

  • Scarlet fever — Also called scarlatina, a disease caused by infection with group A streptococcal bacteria that occurs in a small proportion of people with strep throat. The incubation period between contracting strep and the onset of scarlet fever is short,… …   Medical dictionary

  • scarlet fever — n. to develop; have scarlet fever * * * have scarlet fever to develop …   Combinatory dictionary

  • scarlet fever — N UNCOUNT Scarlet fever is an infectious disease which gives you a painful throat, a high temperature, and red spots on your skin …   English dictionary

  • scarlet fever — Synonyms and related words: African lethargy, Asiatic cholera, Chagres fever, German measles, Haverhill fever, acute articular rheumatism, ague, alkali disease, amebiasis, amebic dysentery, anthrax, bacillary dysentery, bastard measles, black… …   Moby Thesaurus

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