Scarlet Fever Outbreak in China, Hong Kong Mostly Affects Children

Two children, ages 7 and 5, have died in Hong Kong from scarlet fever, a bacterial infection that has reached outbreak status with around 9,000 confirmed cases in China and 450 in Hong Kong. The disease is most serious in children, who have insufficient immunity to the bacteria, but it can be treated with antibiotics.

The Secretary for Food and Health in Hong Kong, York Chow, told the Xinhua news service, "It is expected that the peak of infections of scarlet fever, which has mostly affected children under 10, will last for the coming two months." Parents are being advised to practice good preventive hygeine (covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, washing hands frequently), and to seek medical treatment at the first sign of infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scarlet fever is caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. It is identified by a rash and strawberry-like appearance of the tongue.

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