TAKE CARE: Flu symptoms include fever, a dry cough and a sore throat. Picture: Pexels

Parents told to look out for scarlet fever symptoms as the number of children infected hit a 35-year high.

There have been more than 15,500 cases reported so far this year, twice the number for this time last year.

Health officials warned the bacterial infection – a common cause of child deaths in Victorian times – is at its highest levels since 1982. Cases have been rising since 2014, but officials have not yet been able to pinpoint why this is.

Most common among children aged between two and eight, it is usually treated with antibiotics but in rare cases can lead to complications such as sepsis, kidney damage and pneumonia. It is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria found on the skin and in the throat.

First symptoms include a sore throat and fever that may be accompanied by a headache, nausea and vomiting. Between 12 to 48 hours after this, a rash develops, often on the chest or stomach.

Public Health England figures show there were 1,624 new cases in the most recent week, up to April 1. Nick Phin from PHE said: ‘It is important to be aware that, with treatment, scarlet fever is not usually a serious illness.’

© Daily Mail