What is the prevalence of scarlet fever?

Updated: Jun 21, 2019
  • Author: Bahman Sotoodian, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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As many as 10% of the population contracts group A streptococcal pharyngitis. Of this group, as many as 10% then develop scarlet fever.

In the past century, the number of cases of scarlet fever has remained high, with marked decrease in case-mortality rates secondary to widespread use of antibiotics. Transmission usually occurs via airborne respiratory particles that can be spread from infected patients and asymptomatic carriers.

The infection rate increases in overcrowded situations (eg, schools, institutional settings) and it peaks during late fall, winter, and spring in temperate environments. Immunity, which is type specific, may be induced by a carrier state or overt infection. In adulthood, incidence decreases markedly as immunity develops to the most prevalent serotypes. Complications (eg, rheumatic fever) are more common in recent immigrants to the United States.

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