Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sarah. Sarah Wonders, “what is scarlet fever?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sarah!

Feeling sick is no fun. And often, kids seem to get the worst of it. From chicken pox to the common cold, many illnesses affect kids more often than adults. Today’s Wonder of the Day is about another condition that’s more common in children—scarlet fever.

Have you ever had scarlet fever? Today, most kids haven’t. However, there was a time when it was one of the most common childhood illnesses. Often, it accompanied another infection you may have heard of—strep throat. The two conditions are caused by the same bacteria, called group A Streptococcus.

Scarlet fever is rare today. Still, it’s not gone. People are diagnosed with this illness every year. What symptoms should you look for? The most common signs include fever, sore throat, and a red (or scarlet) rash. This rash is where the illness gets its name. Most people with scarlet fever will also experience swollen glands.

Kids between the ages of 5 and 15 are most likely to be affected by scarlet fever. Doctors can diagnose the condition using a rapid strep test or throat swab. If the results are positive for the bacteria, they will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

How do people catch scarlet fever? It’s very contagious. It spreads through sneezes and coughs. The illness can also spread by drinking from the same container as another person. People are often contagious for several days before they start to feel sick. This helps scarlet fever spread rapidly and is one reason why it was once so common.

In the 19th century, scarlet fever was a life-threatening illness for children. Thanks to progress in medicine, including antibiotics, most people today recover from the illness. However, the infection should still be taken seriously. Scarlet fever can lead to issues such as kidney disease, pneumonia, arthritis, and rheumatic fever.

What should you do if you think you have scarlet fever? Talk to a trusted adult. They’ll help you decide if you should see a doctor. Of course, it’s also important to stay home when you’re sick. Getting some rest can help you feel better. This will also help you avoid spreading illness to others. And always remember to wash your hands! Together, we can help more people stay healthy.

Standards: NHES.A.1, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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