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Scarlet Fever (cont.)

Scarlet Fever Causes

Scarlet fever is caused by infection with exotoxin-producing group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (GABHS), notably Streptococcus pyogenes. The release of a particular toxin is responsible for the characteristic scarlet-colored rash seen with scarlet fever (giving the disease its name). In the majority of cases, scarlet fever occurs as a result of a pharyngeal streptococcal infection (strep throat), though it can less commonly occur as result of streptococcal infections at other sites, such as the skin. It is estimated that scarlet fever develops in up to 10% of individuals who develop streptococcal pharyngitis.

Scarlet fever can occur at any time of the year, though it is more common during the winter and spring. The streptococcal bacterium is typically spread via airborne respiratory droplets transmitted by infected individuals or by individuals who carry the bacteria but do not experience any symptoms (asymptomatic carriers). Streptococcal infections can also be transmitted by coming in direct contact with infected secretions and rarely by food-borne outbreaks. Transmission is enhanced in crowded environments in which individuals come in close contact with each other (for example, schools or day-care centers).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/8/2014
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