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Scarlet Fever Outbreak At Southwest Baltimore School; 3 Students Confirmed Sick

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A warning from the Baltimore City Health Department about a confirmed outbreak of scarlet fever at one city school. Doctors say it’s extremely contagious in kids.

Kai Jackson explains what health officials are doing about it.

Doctors say the cases of scarlet fever should be treated with antibiotics. Meanwhile, the school is sanitizing the area that was exposed.

The city school system tells WJZ three students in the same class at George Washington Elementary in Southwest Baltimore contracted scarlet fever– a highly contagious bacterial infection.

It prompted the school system to send a letter to parents and guardians.

“It’s actually common in this time of year. We’re seeing multiple kids with sore throats, strep throat and/or scarlet fever,” said Dr. Nardine Assaad, a pediatrician at St. Joseph Medical Center.

Scarlet fever is a rash illness caused by the Streptococcus bacteria. Symptoms usually appear one to five days after exposure and include rash on the neck and chest, high fever, sore throat and swollen glands.

Doctors say scarlet fever is actually strep throat with a fever and a rash.

“When you have strep throat, you basically have the strep– the bacteria– in your throat,” Assaad said. “And sometimes, the bacteria produces toxins in the body that will trigger this rash on the skin and then we just call it scarlet fever.”

The bacteria is spread from person-to-person contact, and by respiratory secretions like sneezing and coughing. Doctors say while scarlet fever is highly contagious, it’s also very treatable, most often with antibiotics.

In the letter, parents of students at the school are urged to contact their medical provider if a child has symptoms.

Assaad tells WJZ, in this case, these students can return to school as long as they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours and if they haven’t had a fever for 24 hours unassisted by a fever reducer.

The school system tells WJZ they are working to sanitize the building by cleaning all surfaces and handrails.

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