Chickenpox and scarlet fever in children

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Apr 25 2022

For the attention of Headteachers of schools, Managers of early years settings and  School public health nursing teams

Dear Colleague,

Chickenpox and scarlet fever in children

I am writing to you today to draw your attention to the recent increase in routine childhood infectious
diseases which we are currently observing across the country and in London.

Chickenpox and scarlet fever are two routine childhood infections which are currently seeing some
resurgence; both are considered to be common, mild and of low public health risk. Further details for
both infections are provided below, along with links to guidance and resources which are available to
access online.

In most situations, schools and childcare settings do not need to contact the UKHSA London Health
Protection Team (HPT) about cases of chickenpox in their setting. Routinely, outbreaks (two or more
cases) of scarlet fever should be reported to the HPT so that the appropriate support can be
provided, including advising parents to take children to the GP for antibiotic treatment where required
(see Annex).

However, coinfection of both chickenpox and scarlet fever carries an increased risk of complications
due to invasive infection and requires more proactive management to prevent or mitigate the risk of
severe disease.

Please ensure that you contact your local UKHSA London Health Protection Team promptly if:
• There is a chickenpox outbreak at the same time as case(s) of scarlet fever.
• There is evidence of severe disease - for example, a child is admitted to hospital.
Good infection prevention and control - maintaining an ongoing emphasis on environmental cleaning,
hand and respiratory hygiene, and ensuring staff and children who are unwell remaining away from
the setting, will help reduce transmission of most infections within your setting.

Further advice and guidance can be found online here, including updated advice on managing
COVID-19 and other common childhood infections: here

Yours sincerely,
Dr Yvonne Young
Consultant in Health Protection
Acting Deputy Director Health Protection
UK Health Security Agency

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