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June 9, 2011

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School closed by scarlet fever

A LOCAL primary school has suspended classes from today after almost 50 students contracted scarlet fever.

The first case was confirmed on April 29 and by Tuesday the figure at the public school in west Shanghai, which has around 1,000 pupils, had reached 47.

Of these, 12 students have recovered and 35 are staying at home for treatment. Another 52 suspected cases have been told to stay at home and placed under observation.

After the first case, health authorities launched a disinfection program in the school and sought to keep those infected in isolation. However, these measures failed to halt the spread of the disease.

Grade Five students were permitted to take their final exam earlier than planned and students from other grades have been told to stay at home today.

When classes will resume depends on the recovery of infected students. The cause is still under investigation.

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection that mostly affects children aged between 2 and 12 years old.

Symptoms include a sore throat, a rash, and a whitish or yellowish coating on the tongue.

"Early and proper treatment can cure scarlet fever completely, but the disease can lead to serious complications, such as damage to the heart and kidneys, if not treated in time," said Dr Zhou Yunfang, director of Shanghai Children's Medical Center's infection department.

Scarlet fever is spread through saliva and nasal mucus of infected people and usually peaks in spring, she added.

It is listed as a B-level infectious disease, which must be reported to the health authorities immediately.

According to Shanghai Health Bureau, the city reported 270 cases of scarlet fever last month.

Last year, 221 local residents and 199 migrant people contracted the disease.


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