As we move into summer months, and life returns to normal, we truly all hope that the pandemic is now behind us. After so many months of self-isolation and quarantining, we are now seeing some predicted post-pandemic impacts emerging, primarily NHS backlogs and greater incidences of diseases which were also contained by social distancing. As the UK Health Security Agency has sent out several updates recently to raise awareness of conditions of concern and we give a summary of these below.
Please contact your doctor if you are concerned about any of these updates, or anything at all.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus, first identified in 1958. As of 27th May 2022, the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed in England since 6 May was 101. It’s anticipated that further cases will be detected through active case finding and heightened vigilance among healthcare professionals.
Monkeypox is usually a mild self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks. It may be severe in some individuals, such as children, pregnant women or persons with immune suppression. Any identified close contacts of the confirmed cases are being contacted to provide health information and advice and may be asked to self-isolate for 21 days
Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding. The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. However, the virus does not usually spread easily between people and the risk to the UK population remains low.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals. The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which later falls off.
We believe the risk of contracting Monkeypox is very low, but it is getting a lot of attention in the press and we do understand if you have concerns or anxiety about what you are reading. Do contact us if you are at all worried about any symptoms.
Also getting a lot of attention from the press, is the observed rise in the number of sudden onset hepatitis in children since January 2022. Hepatitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the liver. There are 5 common hepatitis viruses that cause hepatitis (hepatitis viruses A, B, C D & E), but the current confirmed infections have not been connected to any of the known viruses.
As of 25th May 2022, the total number of acute hepatitis cases confirmed in England in children since 1st January was 158. It is not yet clear what the cause is, but investigations being run by UK Health Security Agency suggest an association with adenovirus. Adenoviruses are common pathogens that usually cause self-limited infections. They spread from person-to-person and cause respiratory illness, but depending on the type, can also cause other illnesses such as gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach or intestines), conjunctivitis (pink eye), and cystitis (bladder infection). They are not known to cause hepatitis in otherwise healthy children. Research studies are thus looking into the immune system, namely the impact of prior and concurrent infections. They are also looking at the theory that the lack of exposure to common viruses due to social distancing over the pandemic, may have impacted the development of children’s immune systems.
Initial symptoms of Acute hepatitis are gastrointestinal, such as diarrhoea or vomiting, fever and muscle pain, general lethargy and loss of appetite. However, the most characteristic is jaundice – where the skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow.
It is key that parents know that the likelihood of their child developing hepatitis is extremely low but it is getting a lot of attention in the press and we do understand if you have concerns or anxiety about what you are reading. Do contact us if you are at all worried about any symptoms.
Common Childhood Illnesses
We are seeing an increase in the number of routine childhood infectious diseases and, for those of you with young children, some guidance is outlined below:
Scarlet fever is a contagious infection that mostly affects young children and occurs most often in the winter and spring.
The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands. A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later which looks like small, raised bumps which start on the chest and tummy, then spreads. The rash will look pink or red and make your skin feel rough, like sandpaper. The rash does not appear on the face, but the cheeks can look flushed and red.
A white coating appears on the tongue which peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps sometimes referred to as strawberry tongue. Scarlet fever is infectious, easily spreading to other people up to 6 days before you get symptoms until 24 hours after you take your first dose of antibiotics. Scarlet fever lasts for around a week.
The symptoms are the same for children and adults, although scarlet fever is less common in adults.
We can diagnose scarlet fever by looking at your child’s tongue and rash and, if need be, can confirm diagnosis with a swab from your throat to test for bacteria or a blood test. Your child will be prescribed antibiotics which will help them get better quicker, reduce the chance of serious illnesses and help to prevent passing the infection on to someone else.
To help relieve symptoms at home you can drink cool fluids, eat soft foods if suffering from a sore throat and take painkillers like paracetamol to control a high temperature and discomfort. Use a calamine lotion or antihistamine tablet to ease itching from the rash.
If you have symptoms of scarlet fever, it is important to stay at home, not attend nursery, school or work for 24 hours after you take the first dose of antibiotics. To reduce the spread of scarlet fever, wash your hands often with soap and water, use tissues when necessary and put them in the bin as quickly as possible, do not share cutlery, cups, towels, clothes, bedding or baths with anyone who has symptoms of scarlet fever.
Possible complications from scarlet fever are rare but may occur during or in the weeks following the infection.
If you think your child may have Scarlet Fever, please contact us, as it will need treatment with antibiotics.
Chickenpox is a very contagious infection that causes an itchy, spotty rash. It mostly affects children, but you can get it at any age. It usually gets better by itself after 1 to 2 weeks without medical attention.
It’s easy to catch chickenpox, you can catch chickenpox by being in the same room as someone with it. It’s also spread by touching things that have fluid from the blisters on them. You will be infectious with chickenpox to other people from 2 days before your spots appear until they have all formed scabs – usually 5 days after your spots appear.
Chickenpox may start with feeling generally unwell and fever, and then an itchy, spotty rash appears. It can be anywhere on the body, including the face and inside the mouth. The spots fill with fluid and become blisters. The blisters are very itchy and may burst. The spots form a scab. Some scabs are flaky while others leak fluid.
You can treat chickenpox at home safely. Drink plenty of fluid to avoid dehydration, take paracetamol to help with pain and discomfort, avoid scratching as it may will lead to scaring or possible infection, use cooling creams or gels from a pharmacy or antihistamine medicine to help itching, bathe in cool water and gently pat the skin dry.
You will need to stay away from school, nursery or work until all the spots have formed a scab. This is usually 5 days after the spots appeared.
Avoid newborn babies, people who are pregnant and people with a weakened immune system, as chickenpox can be dangerous for them.
Scarlet Fever and Chickenpox
Children who have had Chickenpox recently are more likely to develop a more serious infection if they then contract Scarlet Fever. Parents should remain vigilant for symptoms such as a persistent high fever, cellulitis (skin infection) and arthritis (joint pain and swelling) which may indicate a more serious problem in relation to Scarlet Fever.
If you are concerned about your or your child’s health, always discuss with your doctor at the first opportunity. We’re here to help.
Founded in 2013, Concierge Medical Practice has progressed to become a national award-winning private General Practice, providing the best healthcare to individual clients and businesses throughout Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Oxfordshire.
Our members have a named private doctor, providing on-going continuity of care. Our list size is kept small to guarantee availability and quality. We are a home-visiting practice, our private doctors are readily contactable for home visits, remote consultations, advice and support. Our team pride themselves on offering the highest quality of care to our members. Getting access to medical care at a time that is convenient for you is essential for your health and wellbeing. Our private doctors always have time for our members.
We have a strong network of secondary care and allied health professionals who complement our general practice services and whom we can readily access.
For more information contact us by phone on 01451 600900