Scarlet fever cases have more than doubled in parts of the UK in recent weeks, the latest figures have revealed.

Suspected infections in Wales recently rose to 55 in the week ending October 29, more than double the total number for the prior week.

While the southeast of England has seen a 53 per cent rise in cases, and the west midlands also saw a 53 per cent increase in infections during the same period.

Scarlet fever is caused by Strep A, or Group A Streptococcus (GAS), which can also cause the skin infection impetigo, and strep throat.

The vast majority of infections are relatively mild, but the bacteria can cause iGas, a life-threatening infection in which the bacteria invades parts of the body such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.

Last winter, there was a spate of deaths in children caused by iGas.

GPs were under pressure to prescribe antibiotics to concerned parents and a shortage of tests and lengthy waits for results saw doctors hand out prescriptions on a precautionary basis, which compounded issues with medicine supplies.

Unprecedented demand also led to price gouging for Strep A rapid tests, with some pharmacies said to have been charging close to £20 per pack.

Scarlet Fever symptoms

The NHS has listed the symptoms to look out for to spot the first signs of scarlet fever.

Initially, the illness will present like a flu, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glans.

A rash then appears up to 48 hours later.

The NHS explained: “It looks like small, raised bumps and starts on the chest and tummy, then spreads. The rash makes your skin feel rough, like sandpaper.

“On white skin the rash looks pink or red. On brown and black skin it might be harder to see a change in colour, but you can still feel the rash and see the raised bumps.

“A white coating also appears on the tongue. This peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps (called "strawberry tongue").

“The rash does not appear on the face, but the cheeks can look red. The redness may be harder to see on brown and black skin.

“The symptoms are the same for children and adults, although scarlet fever is less common in adults.”