Banbury headteacher denies reports of scarlet fever outbreak

Sarah Jakeman, headteacher at Queensway Primary School. ENGNNL00120121217120458
Sarah Jakeman, headteacher at Queensway Primary School. ENGNNL00120121217120458

The headteacher of a Banbury primary school has denied reports that nearly 70 of their pupils are off sick with scarlet fever.

A post appeared on the Facebook page of Banburyshire Info yesterday (Monday) saying Queensway School in Brantwood Rise had 69 children off school, some with either suspected or confirmed cases of the bacterial illness.

But speaking to the Banbury Guardian today (Tuesday), headteacher Sarah Jakeman stressed the number given on the social media site was not correct and that it was ‘scare mongering’.

She said: “We had two confirmed cases on Friday night and we informed Public Health England who advised us to send text messages out to parents. Altogether we have had about six or seven cases which is really low in comparison to what people have been saying. We had a bigger outbreak of chickenpox in the autumn term last year.”

The symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache, high temperature, flushed face and swollen tongue. The distinctive pink-red rash develops 12 to 48 hours later.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, Public Health England’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: “Following the reported substantial increase in scarlet fever since 2014, the number of notifications of the illness remain elevated across most parts of England. Increasing numbers are currently being seen in line with the usual seasonal pattern, where we typically see increasing activity over the course of the winter and spring.

“Whilst scarlet fever is not usually a severe illness it should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of further complications and to minimise the risk of spread to others. Individuals should be mindful of the symptoms of scarlet fever, which include a sore throat, headache and fever with a sandpapery, fine, pinkish/red rash developing within one to two days of first symptoms.

“If you or your child develops any of these symptoms you should contact your GP. Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

“NHS Choices also provides helpful information on symptoms of infection including photographs of the rash.”