By Ken Buben, President – FancyScrubs.com
Scarlet Fever Outbreak
Hong Kong has a Scarlet Fever outbreak happening now and it appears to be more contagious than ever before and is resistant to 60% of the 2 drugs of choice. (erythromycin and clindamycin.)
A 7-year-old girl who died in May became the first recorded scarlet fever death in Hong Kong in at least 10 years, while a 5-year-old boy also died last Tuesday. Both deteriorated quickly in the hospital and were killed by toxic shock syndrome resulting from the infection. The children were infected with two different common strains of scarlet fever that are circulating simultaneously, both antibiotic resistant. However, the one that appears to be dominant also has undergone a genetic mutation that may make it easier to spread, said Kwok-yung Yuen, head of Hong Kong University’s microbiology department, who sequenced samples taken from the current outbreak.
This year’s cases in Hong Kong are about to double the annual amount and it’s only June. The past decade has seen 100-200 cases annually. Young adults who normally don’t become infected are now becoming infected with this Scarlet Fever. The overuse of antibiotics does play a role in the drug resistant strain of Scarlet Fever.
Although anyone can get scarlet fever, the patients are usually young ― 5 to 18 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease spreads through contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
People who are planning to travel to Hong Kong and may be in contact with children there should “use common-sense precautions,” Schaffner said. “Just be careful, avoid sick people and wash your hands.”
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