Bradford has seen an increase in scarlet fever cases as an outbreak of the disease sweeps across the country.

A total of 77 notifications of possible scarlet fever were reported to Public Health England (PHE) from January to March 2014 in Bradford, compared to 54 possible cases in the comparable quarter in 2013.

Dr Mike Gent, of PHE's Yorkshire and the Humber Centre, said: “The increases in scarlet fever currently being seen across the UK have also been seen in Bradford so far this year, though to a lesser extent.

“While most cases of scarlet fever are mild and will resolve within a week, healthcare professionals should continue to be vigilant due to uncommon but possible complications of the illness.

“We are working closely with healthcare professionals to try to understand the reasons behind these increases and do our best to reduce the impact of this infection.

“Anyone with symptoms of scarlet fever, which include a sore throat, headache and fever accompanied by a characteristic rash, should consult their GP. Scarlet fever should be treated with antibiotics to reduce risk of complications.

“Once children or adults are diagnosed with scarlet fever we strongly advise them to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid passing on the infection.”

Overall, Yorkshire has the second highest rate of scarlet fever reports in England.

Between September and March, 339 cases were reported to PHE. Only East Midlands is higher at 461 cases.

However, the number of reports in the region have dropped since the same months in 2012/13 when the figure was 365.

The figures come as PHE reports ‘significant increases’ in scarlet fever notifications in England.

There have been a total of 3,458 cases since the scarlet fever ‘activity season’ began in September 2013. This is up on the 2,622 for 2012/13 and compares to an average of 1,420 for the same period in the previous ten years.

The last season to have this level of activity was in 1989/90 when 4,042 reports were received.

Because overall figures have risen, PHE is alerting health professionals to watch out for signs when assessing patients.

Schools have guidance about the spread of infection and where outbreaks occur, health protection teams are on hand for rapid response. Scarlet fever was a dangerous infection, but is now much less serious.