Scarlet fever boy in critical condition
An eight-year-old boy who contracted scarlet fever is fighting for his life in hospital.
The St Paul's College Primary School student is battling complications caused by toxic shock syndrome, and his condition is described as critical.
The disease killed a 14-year-old girl last month, while an 11-year-old boy has recovered from it after a spell in intensive care.
The eight-year-old from Central and Western district developed a fever and a sore throat last Tuesday, followed by rashes on his neck two days later, the Centre for Health Protection said.
He had consulted a private doctor three times last week, and was referred to the emergency unit at Kwong Wah Hospital, where he was later transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit.
The centre said the boy had pneumonia and was in shock when he was admitted.
A preliminary blood test showed that he was infected with the bacteria that causes scarlet fever, and he also tested positive for influenza B.
The centre, which is investigating the case, said the boy had not been travelling recently.
There has been no outbreak of scarlet fever at his school, but six students came down with a flu-like illness earlier this month.
As of last Friday, 314 cases of scarlet fever had been reported this year.
There were 1,527 such cases for the whole of last year, up from just 128 in 2010. Fourteen patients required intensive care last year, and two later died.
Scarlet fever infections peaked last summer, with 407 cases in June and 297 in July. After the summer, the number of cases fell below 100 a month, but they were higher than usual in December and last month.
Scarlet fever is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria through close contact with an infected person either through airborne transmission or contact with the person's bodily fluids. The disease usually affects children aged two to eight. Symptoms include fever, sore throat and a rash.
It is curable with antibiotics.
The bacteria's resistance to antibiotics had surged to this percentage from the usual 20 to 30 per cent, a HKU study showed last June