According to the Center for Disease Control, Scarlet fever is caused by a Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria that mainly affects children under 10 years of age. Red rash on the skin, sore throat, fever headache and nausea are the main symptoms of scarlet fever. Serious illness can usually be treated with antibiotics.
‘A 100-year old scarlet disease which is a respiratory tract infection affecting children has shown potential to comeback due to the increasing use of antibiotics. Its resistance to current antibiotics emerges as a threat for combating it.’
"We have not yet had an outbreak in Australia, but over the past five years there have been more than 5,000 cases in Hong Kong (a 10-fold increase) and more than 100,000 cases in China and an outbreak in the UK has resulted in 12,000 cases since last year," said Mark Walker, one of the researchers.
Australian scientists have performed genomic sequencing on isolates of 34 GAS strains from Hong Kong and mainland China to investigate genetic changes in the strains, finding several that have led to some drug resistance.
"We now have a situation which may change the nature of the disease and make it resistant to broad-spectrum treatments normally prescribed for respiratory tract infections, such as scarlet fever," said Nouri Ben Zakour, one of the researchers.
Scarlet fever can lead to several complications like rheumatic heart disease, arthritis and ear infections. Therefore, it's important to swiftly identify scarlet fever-associated bacteria and antibiotic resistant elements to track the spread of scarlet fever. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports