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Scarlet fever

Alternative Names : Scarlatina

Definition:
Scarlet fever is a disease caused by infection with the group A Streptococcus bacteria (the same bacteria that causes strep throat).Once a major cause of death, it is now effectively treated with antibiotics. The term scarlatina may be used interchangeably with scarlet fever, though it is commonly used to indicate the less acute form of scarlet fever that is often seen since the beginning of the twentieth century.
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It can affect people of any age. However, it’s most common between the ages of six and 12.

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Symptoms:

The time between becoming infected and having symptoms is short, generally 1 – 2 days. The illness typically begins with a fever and sore throat.

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The rash usually first appears on the neck and chest, then spreads over the body. It is described as “sandpapery” in feel. The texture of the rash is more important than the appearance in confirming the diagnosis. The rash can last for more than a week. As the rash fades, peeling (desquamation) may occur around the fingertips, toes, and groin area.

The common signs and symptoms that give scarlet fever are as follows:

*Red rash. The rash looks like a sunburn and feels like sandpaper. It typically begins on the face or neck and spreads to the trunk, arms and legs. If pressure is applied to the reddened skin, it will turn pale.

*Red lines. The folds of skin around the groin, armpits, elbows, knees and neck usually become a deeper red than the surrounding rash.

*Flushed face. The face may appear flushed with a pale ring around the mouth.

*Strawberry tongue. The tongue generally looks red and bumpy, and it’s often covered with a white coating early in the disease.

The rash and the redness in the face and tongue usually last about a week. After these signs and symptoms have subsided, the skin affected by the rash often peels. Other signs and symptoms associated with scarlet fever include:

*Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher, often with chills

*Very sore and red throat, sometimes with white or yellowish patches

*Difficulty swallowing

*Enlarged glands in the neck (lymph nodes) that are tender to the touch

*Nausea or vomiting

*Headache

*Abdominal pain

*Bright red color in the creases of the underarm and groin (Pastia’s lines)

*Chills

*General discomfort (malaise)

*Muscle aches

*Sore throat

*Swollen, red tongue (strawberry tongue)

Causes:
Scarlet fever is caused by the same type of bacteria that cause strep throat. In scarlet fever, the bacteria release a toxin that produces the rash and red tongue.

The infection spreads from person to person via droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The incubation period — the time between exposure and illness — is usually two to four days.

Risk Factors:
Children 6 to 12 years of age are more likely than are other people to get scarlet fever. Scarlet fever germs spread more easily among people in close contact, such as family members or classmates.

Complications:
If scarlet fever goes untreated, the bacteria may spread to the:

*Tonsils
*Sinuses
*Skin
*Blood
*Middle ear

Rarely, scarlet fever can lead to rheumatic fever, a serious condition that can affect the:

*Heart
*Joints
*Nervous system
*Skin

Diagnosis:
Diagnosis of scarlet fever is clinical. The blood test shows marked leukocytosis with neutrophilia and conservated or increased eosinophils, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) (both indications of inflammation), and elevation of antistreptolysin O titer. Blood culture is rarely positive, but the streptococci can usually be demonstrated in throat culture. The complications of scarlet fever include septic complications due to spread of streptococcus in blood and immune-mediated complications due to an aberrant immune response. Septic complications—today rare—include ear and sinus infection, streptococcal pneumonia, empyema thoracis, meningitis and full-blown sepsis, upon which the condition may be called malignant scarlet fever.

Immune complications include acute glomerulonephritis, rheumatic fever and erythema nodosum. The secondary scarlatinous disease, or secondary malignant syndrome of scarlet fever, includes renewed fever, renewed angina, septic ear, nose, and throat complications and kidney infection or rheumatic fever and is seen around the eighteenth day of untreated scarlet fever.

The rash is the most striking sign of scarlet fever. It usually begins looking like a bad sunburn with tiny bumps, and it may itch. The rash usually appears first on the neck and face, often leaving a clear unaffected area around the mouth. It spreads to the chest and back, then to the rest of the body. In body creases, especially around the underarms and elbows, the rash forms classic red streaks (on very dark skin, the streaks may appear darker than the rest of the skin). Areas of rash usually turn white (or paler brown, with dark complected skin) when pressed on. By the sixth day of the infection, the rash usually fades, but the affected skin may begin to peel. Usually there are other symptoms that help to confirm a diagnosis of scarlet fever, including a reddened sore throat, a fever at or above 101 °F (38.3 °C), and swollen glands in the neck. Scarlet fever can also occur with a low fever. The tonsils and back of the throat may be covered with a whitish coating, or appear red, swollen, and dotted with whitish or yellowish specks of pus. Early in the infection, the tongue may have a whitish or yellowish coating. Also, an infected person may have chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

When scarlet fever occurs because of a throat infection, the fever typically stops within 3 to 5 days, and the sore throat passes soon afterward. The scarlet fever rash usually fades on the sixth day after sore throat symptoms started, and begins to peel (as above). The infection itself is usually cured with a 10-day course of antibiotics, but it may take a few weeks for tonsils and swollen glands to return to normal.

In rare cases, scarlet fever may develop from a streptococcal skin infection like impetigo. In these cases, the person may not get a sore throat.

Treatment:
Other than the occurrence of the diarrhea, the treatment and course of scarlet fever are no different from those of any strep throat. In case of penicillin allergy, clindamycin or erythromycin can be used with success. Patients should no longer be infectious after taking antibiotics for 24 hours. People who have been exposed to scarlet fever should be watched carefully for a full week for symptoms, especially if aged 3 to young adult. It is very important to be tested (throat culture) and if positive, seek treatment.

A drug-resistant strain of scarlet fever has emerged in Hong Kong, accounting for at least two deaths in that city – the first such in over a decade. The mutant strain of the bacterium is about 60% resistant to the antibiotics, says Professor Kwok-yung Yuen, head of Hong Kong University’s microbiology department. This is compared to a previous strain of the disease, which demonstrated a 10-30% resistance. This new strain may have spread to neighboring Macau and mainland China.

Prognosis:
With proper antibiotic treatment, the symptoms of scarlet fever should get better quickly. However, the rash can last for up to 2 – 3 weeks before it fully goes away.

Prevention :
Bacteria are spread by direct contact with infected people, or by droplets exhaled by an infected person. Avoid contact with infected people.

Children should be taught  to practice the following healthy habits:

*Wash  hands. Show your child how to wash his or her hands thoroughly with warm soapy water.

*Don’t share dining utensils or food. As a general rule, your child shouldn’t share drinking glasses or eating utensils with friends or classmates. And that rule applies to food, too.

*Cover your mouth and nose. Tell your child to cover his or her mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing to prevent the potential spread of germs.If your child has scarlet fever, wash his or her drinking glasses, utensils and, if possible, toys in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/scarlet-fever/DS00917
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlet_fever
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/scarletfever1.shtml
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000974.htm
http://www.umm.edu/imagepages/19082.htm
http://www.healthofchildren.com/S/Scarlet-Fever.html
http://sigma.ontologyportal.org:4010/sigma/Browse.jsp?kb=SUMO&term=ScarletFever

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Cellulitis

Definition:
Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and underlying tissues that can affect any area of the body. It often begins in an area of broken skin, like a cut or scratch, when bacteria invade and spread, causing inflammation, pain, swelling, warmth, and redness.

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It is an inflammation of the connective tissue underlying the skin, that can be caused by a bacterial infection. Cellulitis can be caused by normal skin flora or by exogenous bacteria, and often occurs where the skin has previously been broken: cracks in the skin, cuts, blisters, burns, insect bites, surgical wounds, or sites of intravenous catheter insertion. The mainstay of therapy remains treatment with appropriate antibiotics. Skin on the face or lower legs is most commonly affected by this infection, though cellulitis can occur on any part of the body. Cellulitis may be superficial — affecting only the surface of the skin — but cellulitis may also affect the tissues underlying the skin and can spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream.

Cellulitis is unrelated to cellulite, a cosmetic condition featuring dimpling of the skin.

Symptoms:
Early symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, and early signs of redness on the affected area.

Cellulitis is characterized by redness, swelling, warmth, and pain or tenderness. Cellulitis frequently occurs on exposed areas of the body such as the arms, legs, and face. Other symptoms can include fever or chills and headaches. In advanced cases of cellulitis, red streaks (sometimes described as ‘fingers’) may be seen traveling up the affected area. The swelling can spread rapidly.

Cellulitis typically begins as a small, inflamed area of pain, swelling, warmth, and redness on a child’s skin. As this red area begins to spread, the child may begin to feel sick and develop a fever, sometimes with chills and sweats. Swollen lymph nodes (commonly called swollen glands) are sometimes found near the area of infected skin. Cellulitis is not contagious.

Causes:
Cellulitis is caused by a type of bacteria entering by way of a break in the skin. This break need not be visible. Group A streptococcus and staphylococcus are the most common of these bacteria, which are part of the normal flora of the skin but cause no actual infection until the skin is broken. Predisposing conditions for cellulitis include insect bite, animal bite, tattoos, pruritic skin rash, recent surgery, athlete’s foot, dry skin, eczema, injecting drugs (especially subcutaneous or intramuscular injection or where an attempted IV injection “misses” or blows the vein); plus burns and boils, though there is debate as to whether minor foot lesions contribute and also morbidly obese people can experience it.

The appearance of the skin will help a doctor make a diagnosis. The doctor may also suggest blood tests, a wound culture or other tests to help rule out a blood clot deep in the veins of the legs. Cellulitis in the lower leg is characterized by signs and symptoms that may be similar to those of a clot occurring deep in the veins, such as warmth, pain and swelling.

This reddened skin or rash may signal a deeper, more serious infection of the inner layers of skin. Once below the skin, the bacteria can spread rapidly, entering the lymph nodes and the bloodstream and spreading throughout the body.

In rare cases, the infection can spread to the deep layer of tissue called the fascial lining. Necrotizing fasciitis, also called by the media “flesh-eating bacteria“, is an example of a deep-layer infection. It represents an extreme medical emergency.

Diagnosis:

Cellulitis is most often a clinical diagnosis, and local cultures do not always identify the causative organism. Blood cultures usually are positive only if the patient develops generalised sepsis. Conditions that may resemble cellulitis include deep vein thrombosis, which can be diagnosed with a compression leg ultrasound, and stasis dermatitis, which is inflammation of the skin from poor blood flow.

The incubation period for cellulitis varies, depending on the type of bacteria causing it.Sometimes it can develop in as little as twenty-four hours or can take days to develop. Your doctor can diagnose cellulitis by asking a few questions and examining the area of affected skin. Sometimes, especially in younger kids, a blood culture may be done to check for bacteria growth. A positive blood culture means that bacteria from the skin infection have spread into the bloodstream, a condition known as bacteremia. This can potentially lead to septicemia, an infection affecting many systems of the body.

Treatment:
A child with severe cellulitis may be treated in the hospital using intravenous (IV) antibiotics. Kids with milder cellulitis can be treated at home with antibiotics. The doctor may also suggest that the affected part of the body be immobilized and elevated to reduce swelling and pain. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce discomfort.

After 1 or 2 days on antibiotics at home, a child may return to see the doctor, who’ll check that the area of cellulitis has improved and that the antibiotics are working to heal the infection.

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Is Antibiotic Treatment for Cellulitis Necessary?

Duration:
In many cases, cellulitis takes less than a week to disappear with antibiotic therapy. However, it can take months to resolve completely in more serious cases, and can result in severe debility or even death if untreated. If it is not properly cured it may appear to improve but can resurface again even after months and years.

Prevention:
You can prevent cellulitis by protecting your child’s skin from cuts, bruises, and scrapes. This may not be easy, especially if you have an active child who loves to explore or play sports. Protective equipment worn to prevent other injuries during active play can also protect skin: elbow and knee pads while skating, a bike helmet during bike riding, shin guards during soccer, long pants and long-sleeved shirts while hiking in the woods, sandals (not bare feet) on the beach, and seatbelts while riding in a motor vehicle.

Good hygiene and good wound care lower the risk of cellulitis. Any wounds should be cleaned and dressed appropriately. Changing bandages daily or when they become wet or dirty will reduce the risk of contracting cellulitis. Medical advice should be sought for any wounds which are deep, dirty or if there is concern about retained foreign bodies.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulitis
http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/cellulitis.html

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