Via The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Resurgence of scarlet fever in China: a 13-year population-based surveillance study. The summary:
A re-emergence of scarlet fever has been noted in Hong Kong, South Korea, and England, UK, since 2008. China also had a sudden increase in the incidence of the disease in 2011. In this study, we aimed to assess the epidemiological changes before and after the upsurge. We also aimed to explore the reasons for the upsurge in disease in 2011, the epidemiological factors that contributed to it, and assess how these could be managed to prevent future epidemics.
In this observational study, we extracted the epidemiological data for all cases of scarlet fever between 2004 and 2016 in China from the Chinese Public Health Science Data Center, the official website of National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China, and the National Notifiable Infectious Disease Surveillance System. These data had been collected from 31 provinces and regions in China and included geographical, seasonal, and patient demographic information. We used descriptive statistical methods and joinpoint regression to examine the spatiotemporal patterns and annual percentage change in incidence of the upsurge of disease across China.
Between Jan 1, 2004, and Dec 31, 2016, 502 723 cases of scarlet fever, with ten fatalities, were reported in China, resulting in an annualised average incidence of 2·8807 per 100 000 people. The annual average incidence increased from 1·457 per 100 000 people in 2004 to 4·7638 per 100 000 people in 2011 (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 3·27, 95% CI 3·22–3·32; p<0·0001), peaking in 2015 (5·0092 per 100 000 people). The annual incidence after the 2011 upsurge of scarlet fever, between 2011 and 2016, was twice the average annual incidence reported between 2004 and 2010 (4·0125 vs 1·9105 per 100 000 people; IRR 2·07, 95% CI 2·06–2·09; p<0·0001).
Most cases were distributed in the north, northeast, and northwest of the country. Semi-annual patterns were observed in May–June and November–December. The median age at onset of disease was 6 years, with the annual highest incidence observed in children aged 6 years (49·4675 per 100 000 people). The incidence among boys and men was 1·54 greater than that among girls and women before the upsurge, and 1·51 times greater after the upsurge (p<0·0001 for both). The median time from disease onset to reporting of the disease was shorter after the upsurge in disease than before (3 days vs 4 days; p=0·001).
To our knowledge, this is the largest epidemiological study of scarlet fever worldwide. The patterns of infection across the country were similar before and after the 2011 upsurge, but the incidence of disease was substantially higher after 2011. Prevention and control strategies being implemented in response to this threat include improving disease surveillance and emergency response systems. In particular, the school absenteeism and symptom monitoring and early-warning system will contribute to the early diagnosis and report of the scarlet fever. This approach will help combat scarlet fever and other childhood infectious diseases in China.