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.

Comments (12)
  1. Ruby says:

    And I resent chetta-ketta calling parents “too damn lazy” to get shots. I was diligent about vaccinating my children until my son was harmed by them. It is a conscious, educated decision on my part not to vaccinate my family any more. 18 years later, my four children are quite healthy, thank you.

    It just shows your ignorance that you thought there was a vaccine for scarlet fever anyway. Apparent you just blindly allow whatever toxins someone wants to inject into your child without even knowing what they are, let alone doing due dligence as a parent by researching them.

  2. Hicktorian says:

    @ Chetta – My daughter developed Scarlet Fever within a week of finishing antibiotics for strep throat. It happens. It stinks that it happens and it freaks some people out. Children will get sick.

  3. Knowitnot says:

    OK WOW chetta-ketta,
    First of all you can not vaccinate against a bacteria, only Viruses. Strep is a bacteria, treated with antibiotics. Strep lives in the mouths/throats of all humans, it is usualy harmless until it is able to populate profusely via large amounts of sugar or by strep from someone else. This is in no way a life threatening event.

    1. rtg says:

      Actually, scarlet fever can be life threatening. My son had it years ago, and as he got it during a measles outbreak the doctor told me he had measles, which there is no cure for, you just wait it out. When he kept getting sicker while the other kids were getting better, I took him to an older doctor, and he knew right away it was scarlet fever and not measles, so he finally got the antibiotics he needed. A lot of the younger doctors haven’t seen scarlet fever and it its misdiagnosed as measles they don’t get the antibiotics because antibiotics don’t work with measles. The fever with scarlet fever gets extemely high and they can into shook, have convulsions and if can cause blindness. Our son spent a lot of screaming time in a tub to cool his fever. And yes, it can kill.

  4. Swell_swell says:

    Knowitknot – you *can* vaccinate against bacteria, What do you think you are vaccinating against when you get a tetanus vaccine? Diptheria is also caused by a bacteria as is whooping cough.

  5. Clare Archer says:

    To clarify: bacterial infections are treated with anibiotics. Viral infections are not. Vaccines are made with either live or killed agents to encourage the body to develop antibodies to the disease one is being vaccinated against.


  6. Lee Johnson says:

    Did they catch it fording the river on the Oregon trail?

  7. Tara C. says:

    @Ruby–I am truly glad that your children have thus far been healthy after going vaccine-free. Please know, however, that your conclusion (vaccines aren’t necessary) is erroneous. You have simply been lucky. Your stance is akin to saying, “Well, I always eat fatty food but I never gain any weight, so it must be unnecessary to eat healthier food”.

    Another reason some people don’t believe they need vaccines is because they think the viruses no longer exist, since few( if any) individuals contract the diseases for which vaccines are typically administered in childhood. However, the viruses still exist, but lie dormant until there is a sizable population of people who *haven’t* been vaccinated and therefore allow the virus to thrive once again. Your “conscious, educated” decision therefore becomes a public health issue, and your “personal” choice to not vaccinate your children endangers others. You need to explore the matter further to understand the ramifications of not vaccinating.

    Additionally, many diseases which would merely be a nuisance in childhood can be far more devastating in an adult. That your children have not yet become ill does not mean they never will.

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