Second Chinese Child Dead in Scarlet Fever Outbreak

Mutated Scarlet Fever strain is more antibiotic resistant

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A second Hong Kong child has died from a mutated strain of Scarlet Fever that is more resistant to antibiotics, according to reports by the Associated Press.

The pair of deaths mark the first from the illness in the Chinese city in at least a decade.

The new strain is about 60 percent resistant to antibiotics -- at least twice the resistance of previous strains, and some characteristics of the strain likely make it more contagious.

"There is currently no reason to believe the mutation will spread to the United States."

On Tuesday a 5-year-old boy died followed by a 7-year-old Hong Kong girl on Wednesday. The number of cases reported in Hong Kong is already double the typical annual total. More than 460 cases of Scarlet Fever already have been reported in Hong Kong this year and it is possible that the outbreak has spread to neighboring Macau and mainland China.

The number of cases of Scarlet Fever also has doubled on the mainland with 9,000 cases reported. In Macau, 49 cases have been reported.

Scarlet fever was at one time a serious childhood disease, most common in children under the age of 10. It is caused by the streptococcal bacteria, the same bacteria that causes strep throat, which produces a toxin that leads to the bright red rash of the illness. Other common symptoms include fever and sore throat.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 22, 2011
Last Updated:
June 26, 2011