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Tongue in scarlet fever. Close-up of a rash on the tongue of a child with scarlet fever (scarlatina). Scarlet fever is a highly contagious disease, mainly of childhood, caused by Streptococcus sp. bacteria. It is transmitted by a patient or carrier (by coughing) or through contaminated milk. Symptoms occur 2-4 days after exposure and include fever, sickness, sore throat & a widespread scarlet rash affecting the torso, limbs and tongue. Treatment with antibiotics shortens the illness & prevents such complications as ear & kidney infections & swollen neck glands. An infection usually confers life-long immunity.
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