Parents warned about scarlet fever and chickenpox outbreak at East Lancashire school

An East Lancashire school is warning parents that a small number of its pupils have been diagnosed with scarlet fever or chickenpox.

St Oswald's R.C. Primary and Nursery School has issued a warning letter about steps it is taking to help prevent the spread, following advice from Public Health England.

Nine children have so far died in the UK from Strep A bacterial infections since September.

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Strep A bacteria is often found in the throat and on the skin, but some people have no symptoms. It can cause illnesses like a skin infection, impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

People are being advised to wash their hands regularly to prevent the spread of scarlet fever and chickenpox. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. A fine red rash appears 12 to 48 hours later, starting on the chest and tummy, before spreading. The rash makes your skin feel rough, like sandpaper, and the face can be flushed red but pale around the mouth.

The UK Health Security Agency North West Health Protection Team says scarlet fever is usually a mild illness but should be treated with antibiotics to minimise the risk of complications and reduce the spread to others.

Signs of chickenpox include an itchy, spotty rash anywhere on the body, a high temperature, aches and pains, and a loss of appetite.

The school letter said: “The Health Protection Team have advised us on hygiene measures to help prevent spread within our school/nursery.

"Parents/guardians can also help with this by reminding children of the importance of coughing/sneezing into tissues and placing these in the bin, washing hands regularly and ensuring any breaks to the skin are covered with a waterproof plaster/dressing before attending school/nursery.”

Parents should see a GP or contact NHS 111 as soon as possible if their child has symptoms of scarlet fever or chickenpox.

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If their child has chickenpox, they are also advised to cut their fingernails, put socks on their hands at night to stop them scratching, bathe them in cool water, dress them in loose clothes, and avoid letting them going near newborn babies.