Dozens of people are being infected with scarlet fever as the once-feared Victorian disease, a leading cause of death 200 years ago, shows signs of a comeback.
Some 63 people have contracted the condition in Blackpool since September – up 13 per cent from the same period the year before.
And in Lancashire, including Fylde and Wyre, cases rose to 225 cases between 13 September 2015 and 4 April, compared to 145 during the same period the year before.
Nationally there were 1,319 reported cases one week last month, the highest weekly total for England and Wales since records began in 1982, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has now been urged to look into the rise, while doctors across the Fylde coast have been told to be vigilant.
Dr Theresa Lamagni, PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: “As we reach peak season for scarlet fever, health practitioners should be particularly mindful of the current high levels of scarlet fever when assessing patients.
“Close monitoring, rapid and decisive response to potential outbreaks and early treatment of scarlet fever with an appropriate antibiotic remains essential, especially given the potential complications associated with group A streptococcal infections.”
Scarlet fever is a highly-contagious seasonal illness which mainly affects youngsters between two and eight.
While once potentially deadly, the condition is now treated with a course of antibiotics and usually clears up within a week.
However, there is a small risk of the infection spreading and causing more serious infections such as pneumonia.
People with symptoms, which include a sore throat, headache and fever accompanied by a characteristic rash, are ‘strongly urged to consult their GP.’
Cases usually peak at this time of the year, and are caused by bacteria spread by both indirect contact, such as sneezes and coughs, and direct contact, such as skin or contaminated towels, baths, clothes, or bed linen.