Scarlet fever, an infectious disease characterized by sore throat, a distinctive rash, and the classic „strawberry tongue.“ It is primarily considered a childhood illness, typically occurring in the first decade of life. However, adults can also fall victim to this infection, as there is virtually no immunity against it. This means that individuals can contract scarlet fever multiple times.

The causative agent of scarlet fever is Streptococcus bacteria, transmitted through droplet infection or contact with contaminated objects. The disease often manifests as small epidemics, with the highest risk of transmission during the 2-4 day incubation period. Once the illness has been diagnosed and antibiotic treatment initiated promptly, it ceases to be contagious after two to three days.

Symptoms of scarlet fever appear suddenly, with high fever reaching almost 40°C and severe throat and head pain as initial signs. The throat typically displays a scarlet red coloration, while the tongue may develop a white coating initially before turning strawberry red after 2-4 days. Children often experience nausea and vomiting. Following the onset of fever, the characteristic rash emerges, consisting of pinhead-sized red spots densely clustered, primarily around the armpits, chest, groin, and inner thighs. The area around the mouth remains pale (milk-white). Itchiness is minimal. Approximately three weeks after the initial symptoms appear, the skin begins to peel, particularly on the palms and soles of the feet.

For an accurate diagnosis, a throat swab should ideally be taken upon the first symptoms. Subsequently, treatment involves a high-dose antibiotic regimen (typically penicillin if there are no allergies) for ten days, along with measures to reduce fever and alleviate throat pain.

While it is possible to contract scarlet fever during pregnancy, numerous studies have found no evidence of significant risk to the unborn baby if a scarlet fever infection occurs during pregnancy. Based on available research, the risk of the newborn contracting the infection appears to be very low.

In conclusion, scarlet fever poses risks to pregnant individuals if left untreated, highlighting the importance of prompt medical intervention. However, with appropriate treatment, scarlet fever can be effectively managed, ensuring the health and well-being of both mother and child.

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