Scarlet fever, a childhood disease again among us?

scarlet fever

Based on the mandatory scarlet fever reporting system in England and Wales, scarlet fever epidemics and their characteristics were analyzed over a period of over 100 years (1911–2016). Between 2013 and 2014, cases of scarlet fever skyrocketed more than three times (from 8.2 to 27.2 cases per 100,000 population), and then continued to increase slightly until 2016. In absolute terms, During this year, England and Wales recorded 19,206 cases of scarlet fever, which occurred in the framework of 620 epidemics distributed evenly throughout the country. 2016 was therefore the “richest in scarlet fever” year for the past 50 years.

What is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is an infectious disease that is essentially infantile , contagious and epidemic, which results in the systematic dissemination of exotoxins causing the rash characteristic of scarlet fever. The incubation period of scarlet fever is rather short, between 1 and 5 days . The onset is sudden, however, associating a high fever (up to 40), chills, vomiting pharyngeal (throat) and abdominal pain. Then settles in period of state occurring after 2 months an exanthema and an enanthema (occurring at the level of the mouth and throat), red and swollen tonsils, saburrale tongue then raspberry red, a red sore throat, itchy skin, lymphadenopathy and heart problems.

Scarlet fever mainly affects children between 5 and 10 years old, usually during the winter . Its transmission is mainly through the air (nasal droplets.)

A little history

Scarlet fever is also called the third disease . It was in the 19th century that 6 different rashes were studied, which indeed appeared in young children. Scarlet fever was also the third of these 6 diseases to be studied and named. For information, the first disease is measles , the second disease is rubella , the fourth disease is scarlatiform rubella , the fifth disease is epidemic megalerythema and the sixth disease is roseola infantum .

What is scarlet fever caused by?

The responsible, which is transmitted by projection of microdroplets of saliva, is therefore a group A haemolytic streptococcus called: Streptococcus pyogenes , which diffuses its toxins in the body. A purulent focus is thus created in the pharynx and tonsils (form of angina) and this is the start of the toxi-infection. In the best cases, the disease progresses in 2 to 3 weeks, but it can be complicated by nephritis .

Are there any medicinal plants to fight scarlet fever?

The antibiotic therapy of choice for GAS infections is indeed penicillin . No resistance has been demonstrated to date. In case of invasive infection, the addition of clindamycin is recommended because of its anti-toxin effect, its efficacy not influenced by the size of the inoculate and its post-antibiotic effect. However, to potentiate the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy , the usefulness of certain medicinal plants remains essential.

Echinacea :

The Echinacea has a preventive and curative action dose-dependent inhibitory antibacterial on the growth of certain bacteria. Its antibacterial effect therefore acts directly on Streptococcus pyogenes .

Echinacea is however contraindicated in children under 12 years old.

Tea tree essential oil :

The broad spectrum antibacterial effect of tea tree essential oil is linked to MT alcohols (active against antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Steptococcus pneumoniae and pyogenes , and Hemophilus influenza ).

However, tea tree essential oil is contraindicated in children under 7 years old.


Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :

  • Birt DF, Widrlechner MP, Lalone CA, Wu L, Bae J, Solco AK, Kraus GA, Murphy PA, Wurtele ES, Leng Q, Hebert SC, Maury WJ, Price JP. Echinacea in infection
  • Ultee A, Bennik M, Moezelaar R. The phenolic hydroxyl group of carvacrol is essential for action against the food-borne pathogen Bacillus cereus. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002
  • Ultee A, Kets W, Smid E. Mechanisms of action of carvacrol on the food-borne pathogen Bacillus cereus. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999
  • Carson CF, Mee BJ, Riley TV. Mechanism of action of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on Staphylococcus aureus determined by time-kill, lysis, leakage, and salt tolerance assays and electron microscopy. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2002
  • Halcón L, Milkus K. Staphylococcus aureus and wounds: a review of tea tree oil as a promising antimicrobial. Am J Infect Control. 2004
  • Nelson RR. In-vitro activities of five plant essential oils against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1997
  • Ferrini AM, Mannoni V, Aureli P, Salvatore G, Piccirilli E, Ceddia T, Pontieri E, Sessa R, Oliva B. Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil possesses potent anti-staphylococcal activity extended to strains resistant to antibiotics. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2006
  • Papadopoulos CJ, Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Susceptibility of pseudomonas to Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and components. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006


Clementine. M.
Naturopath – Aromatherapist / Herbalist – Phytotherapist
Consultant in Clinical Phyto-aromatherapy and Ethnomedicine

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