Emerging disease surveillance and response

Scarlet Fever

14 July 2011

An increase in scarlet fever cases has recently been reported in Hong Kong (China), where scarlet fever is a notifiable disease. World Health Organization is in regular communication with Hong Kong authorities and other Member States and appreciates their openness. As of 12 July 2011, 861 cases have been reported since January 2011 and this level greatly exceeded case numbers reported for the same time period from the last 10 years. While a large increase has been reported since April 2011, the latest data indicate that the situation is stabilizing with overall decline in the daily number of reported cases since 23 June 2011. Two children have died from the current scarlet fever outbreak. These are the first deaths to be reported due to scarlet fever in 10 years. No additional deaths have occurred since 21 June 2011. Although strains circulating in Hong Kong (China) show increased resistance to one class of antibiotic, they remain sensitive to the widely available antibiotic penicillin.

An increase in scarlet fever cases has recently been reported in Hong Kong (China), where scarlet fever is a notifiable disease. World Health Organization is in regular communication with Hong Kong authorities and other Member States and appreciates their openness. As of 12 July 2011, 861 cases have been reported since January 2011 and this level greatly exceeded case numbers reported for the same time period from the last 10 years. While a large increase has been reported since April 2011, the latest data indicate that the situation is stabilizing with overall decline in the daily number of reported cases since 23 June 2011. Two children have died from the current scarlet fever outbreak. These are the first deaths to be reported due to scarlet fever in 10 years. No additional deaths have occurred since 21 June 2011. Although strains circulating in Hong Kong (China) show increased resistance to one class of antibiotic, they remain sensitive to the widely available antibiotic penicillin.

Among Western Pacific Region Member States, scarlet fever is also a notifiable disease in Macau (China), mainland China and the Republic of Korea. All these countries/areas have experienced an increased in the reported number of scarlet fever cases in 2011. However, no deaths have been reported.

Macau (China), has also experienced a similarly large increase in the number of reported cases in 2011 (Figure 2). Compared to the 63 cases reported during January to June in 2011, only eight cases were reported during the same time period in 2010. The monthly number of reported cases has been showing a large increase since May.

Mainland China has also been experiencing an increase in the number of reported cases in 2011 (Figure 3), although the increase relative to the past few years is lower than those reported from Hong Kong (China) and Macau (China). Compared to the 31 042 cases reported during January to June in 2011, 8269 cases were reported during the same time period in 2010. The monthly number of reported cases has been showing a large increase since May.

The Republic of Korea has also been experiencing an increase in the number of reported cases in 2011 (Figure 4), although the increase relative to the past few years is lower than those reported from Hong Kong (China) and Macau (China). Compared to the 198 cases reported during January to June in 2011, there were 55 cases reported during the same time period in 2010. The monthly number of reported cases has been increasing since March.

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