Scarlet fever in Lephalale — symptoms similar to measles

LEPHALALE — “Lephalale has had a fair share of reported cases of scarlet fever this year. People tend to mistake scarlet fever for measles as these two are similar in the way they present. This disease was previously thought to have disappeared but it is still seen in our community today,” says Dr Sello Mphelo, General Practitioner at Mediclinic Lephalale and head of Casualties.

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He says scarlet fever is a disease which can occur as a result of a group of bacteria known as group A streptococcus (group A strep) infection.

Signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • A sore throat (painful swallowing);
  • Fever, typically over 39 °C (102.2 °F);
  • Headaches;
  • Swollen lymph nodes;
  • Rash which feels like sandpaper;
  • Fatigue;
  • Enlarged and reddened tonsils with yellow patch like coat on top; and
  • Enlarged and tender lymph nodes usually located on the front of the neck.

The following symptoms will usually be absent: cough, hoarseness, runny nose, diarrhea, and conjunctivitis. Their presence indicates it is more likely a viral infection.


The rash begins 1–2 days following the onset of symptoms. The reddened skin will blanch when you apply pressure to it. It is possible for the skin to be itchy however it will not be painful. It usually first appears on the torso and then gradually spreads out to the arms and legs. The palms, soles and face are usually left untouched by the rash. The face, however, is usually flushed, most prominently in the cheeks, with a ring of paleness around the mouth.

Within one week of onset the rash begins to fade, followed by a longer process of desquamation, or shedding of the outer layer of skin, which lasts several weeks.

Can it spread?

The bacteria are usually spread by people coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread when a person touches an object that has the bacteria on it and then touches their mouth or nose. It most commonly affects children between the ages five and 15 years of age.

There is no vaccine.


  • Hand washing;
  • Not sharing personal items, and
  • Staying away from other sick people.
  • Treatment:

Antibiotics usually help.

Dr Mphelo can be contacted at Mediclinic Lephalale Casualty, 014 762 0408 and/or Lethabong Medical Centre (Hendrik Street) 014 763 3935.

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