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Health Protection Agency (HPA) warning as primary pupil at The John Wallis Academy, Stanhope, Ashford, catches scarlet fever

A pupil at an Ashford school has caught scarlet fever, prompting teachers to issue a warning to parents.

The primary-aged child at The John Wallis Academy, which also takes older pupils, has been treated with antibiotics and principal John McParland has sent a letter to all parents telling them how to spot the symptoms of the illness and what to do if they think their child has it.

Mr McParland told mums and dads there was “no cause for alarm” before providing information from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) on symptoms, treatments and how to avoid spreading infection.

A child with scarlet fever. Stock image.
A child with scarlet fever. Stock image.

Hayley Porter-Aslet , John Wallis’ director of finance and operations, told KentOnline: “We have given clear guidance to parents on how to spot the symptoms of scarlet fever and what they should do if they suspect their child may have it. The disease is very easily treatable with antibiotics.

“All our staff have also been given guidance on how to spot the symptoms and what to do in the unlikely event of another case.

"All our advice has been taken from the Health Protection Agency. We always have a plentiful supply of hand sanitizing gel and anti-bacterial handwash in the academy to avoid the transference of any germs.”

John McParland, principal of The John Wallis Academy
John McParland, principal of The John Wallis Academy

The HPA describes scarlet fever as a scattered red rash and high temperature caused by bacteria, which can occasionally lead to kidney or heart complications if not treated quickly.

The rash is most likely to be in the creases of the joints or on the stomach, usually goes white when pressed and sometimes feels rough, like sandpaper.

The letter from the academy advises parents to take their child to a GP if they experience any of the symptoms and says the doctor will normally prescribe antibiotics.

The John Wallis Academy. Picture: Gary Browne
The John Wallis Academy. Picture: Gary Browne

Mr McParland says children with scarlet fever may return to school once they have finished one full day of antibiotic treatment, if they feel well enough.

To prevent the spread of infection at home, families should wash hands thoroughly after wiping a nose or preparing food, wash dishes well in hot, soapy water, and not share toothbrushes, cups, straws or eating utensils, the letter adds.

So far this year there has been a confirmed case of scarlet fever at a school on Sheppey and suspected cases at a Whitstable school. Two pupils at Willesborough Junior School, Ashford, caught scarlet fever in 2008.

The John Wallis Academy, in Millbank Road, Stanhope, caters for pupils from nursery and reception classes, through primary and secondary phases, up to sixth form.

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