Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I just pick-up an announcement by the health authorities in Hong Kong of an outbreak of scarlet fever in Hong Kong. There are almost 400 cases reported this year in the small island state. There is usually some cases reported, but these year, the HK Health Authorities say, the cases are more then usual. They think that the bacteria has mutated, and is now more contagious, and perhaps more virulent.
We in Malaysia, should be more vigilant, as scarlet fever is very contagious, as it is spread by droplet spread, meaning that talking, coughing, sneezing, especially in a close environment can easily spread the disease, especially to the immune compromised ( the very young and the very old )..
Scarlet fever is an infection by the Streptococcus Pyogenes. As spread is by droplet spread, the portal of entry is usually the nose and throat. So scarlet fever presents as fever followed followed by sorethroat and a strawberry tongue. There is also a red rash, which characteriscally comes 1-2 days following the fever. If untreated, the patient may develop complications like nephritis ( inflammation of the kidneys ), or carditis and valvulitis ( inflammation of the heart muscle and valves ). The second may lead on to acute and chronic Rheumatic heart disease.
Treatment is easy. A 10 day course of antibiotics ( it should be sentive to penicillin group antibiotics ) should eradicate the infection, useless this mutated strain, develops resistance to the antibiotics.
Our Hong Kong colleagues reported two deaths.
It is good to be aware. The infection can be easily diagnosed, when there is an index of suspicion and the treatment is easy.
Hong Kong to KL is just 4 hours by plane and many Malaysians travel to Kong Kong and back for work or holiday, so that what affects HK may soon also affect Malaysia.
Just to let you know.

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