N.S. mother warns of scarlet fever after daughter contracts the rare illness
Published Tuesday, February 6, 2018 9:32PM AST
For Melissa Pepper, this flu season has been anything but typical.
Her seven-year-old-daughter Katelyn seemed to have a nasty case of the flu last week. After a visit to the emergency room, Pepper – who is a nurse – was surprised to learn it was, in fact, scarlet fever.
“I was a bit panicky,” she says, “and I was shocked.”
Like many people, Pepper thought scarlet fever was a thing of the past, and in some ways, it is. Once commonly fatal in children, the strep infection can now be treated easily with antibiotics. The illness seems to be making a comeback in the United Kingdom, which saw a spike of cases in 2016. And it is highly contagious.
Pepper says untreated strep can turn into scarlet fever, which is what happened to her daughter.
“Had I have known, I would never have waited past two days of a fever,” Pepper says.
Canada's flu season is nearing its annual peak and officials say there's a significant amount of flu activity this year.
There have been more than 1,000 lab-confirmed cases in the Maritimes, most being in New Brunswick. Fourteen people have died of flu-related illness in Nova Scotia this year, along with 13 in New Brunswick and three on Prince Edward Island.
That's on the high end of normal, according to Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. Dr. Robert Strang says Nova Scotians may have some immunity to influenza A H3 – the most common strain.
“We make flu vaccine available for all Nova Scotians free,” Strang says. “Even though it could be better, we still have some of the highest immunization rates in the country.”
Strang says, if you’re noticing signs of the flu, visit a doctor immediately.
“Combination of fever, sore throat, rash like that that's not getting better after a day or so, they really should be seen,” he says.
Pepper says staff at her daughter's school in Eastern Passage told her there have been a number of cases of scarlet fever this year, and she wants other parents to be aware.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.