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Scarlet fever in Hong Kong (Update 1)

06 July 2011

The Health Secretary reports that between 10-20 new cases of scarlet fever are being identified daily at present. The Health Secretary visited children's nurseries in Central Hong Kong to see what preventive measures are being taken to prevent further spread of infection. It is predicted that the outbreak will continue until around September 2011.

Advice for Travellers

Scarlet fever is caused by Streptococcal bacteria, usually Streptococcus pyogenes. It is mainly a disease of children (peak age 2-10 years) and the risk of infection is increased in nurseries, schools and in crowded conditions.

It is spread primarily by droplets resulting from coughing and sneezing but the infection can also be acquired by direct contact with secretions, including by sharing food utensils.

Transmission can be reduced by frequent hand washing, avoiding sharing food utensils and using disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing.