Gray, Ernest Variety Club Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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An acute contagious disease that is a consequence of infection with Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococci). It most often accompanies pharyngeal (throat) infections with this organism but is occasionally associated with wound infection or septicemia. Scarlet fever is characterized by the appearance, about 2 days after development of pharyngitis, of a red rash that blanches under pressure and has a sandpaper texture. Usually the rash appears first on the trunk and neck and spreads to the extremities. The rash fades after a week, with desquamation, or peeling, generally occurring during convalescence. Like streptococcal pharyngitis without such a rash, the disease is usually self-limiting, although severe forms are occasionally seen with high fever and systemic toxicity. Appropriate antibiotic therapy is recommended to prevent the onset in susceptible individuals of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.
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