Scarlet fever: guidance and data

The symptoms, diagnosis, management and epidemiology of scarlet fever (scarlatina).

Scarlet fever occurs most often in the winter and spring. Symptoms include a rash, a sore throat, flushed cheeks and swollen tongue.

Scarlet fever is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or group A streptococci (GAS) bacteria. Occasionally these bacteria can cause severe and life-threatening diseases.

Scarlet fever is a notifiable disease in England and Wales. This means health professionals must inform local health protection teams of suspected cases.

Diagnosis and management

In many cases, doctors can diagnose scarlet fever from the symptoms alone. If you need confirmation, send a throat swab for bacterial culture to the local microbiology laboratory. In certain cases, serology may also be of value.


Reports from active surveillance of scarlet fever notifications during the current season. See also: Group A Streptococcal Infections: Guidance and Data.

Published 1 July 2014
Last updated 13 February 2018 + show all updates
  1. Latest seasonal activity document inserted into the Epidemiology subgroup (2017/2018 season).
  2. Added 'Group A streptococcal infections: activity during the 2014 to 2015 season' to the collection.
  3. First published.