scarlet fever

GC: n

S: MEDLP – (last access: 15 December 2013); (last access: 11 October 2015).

N: 1. scarlet (n.): mid-13c., “rich cloth” (often, but not necessarily, bright red), from a shortened form of Old French escarlate “scarlet (color), top-quality fabric” (12c., Modern French écarlate), from Medieval Latin scarlatum “scarlet, cloth of scarlet” (also source of Italian scarlatto, Spanish escarlata), probably via a Middle Eastern source (compare Arabic siqillat “fine cloth”), from Medieval Greek and ultimately from Late Latin sigillatus “clothes and cloth decorated with small symbols or figures,” literally “sealed,” past participle of sigillare, from the root of sign (n.).
2. In English as the name of a color, attested from late 14c. As an adjective from c.1300. Scarlet lady, etc. (Isa. i:18, Rev. xvii:1-5) is from notion of “red with shame or indignation.” Scarlet fever is from 1670s, so called for its characteristic rash. Scarlet oak, a New World tree, attested from 1590s. Scarlet letter traces to Hawthorne’s story (1850). German Scharlach, Dutch scharlaken show influence of words cognate with English lake (n.2).
3. scarlatina (n.): 1803, from Modern Latin scarlatina (Sydenham, 1676), from Italian scarlattina (Lancelotti, 1527), fem. of scarlattino (adj.), diminutive of scarlatto “scarlet” (see scarlet). It is a synonym for scarlet fever, not a milder form of it. Related: Scarlattinal.
4. scarlet fever, also called scarlatina, acute infectious disease caused by group A hemolytic streptococcal bacteria, in particular Streptococcus pyogenes. Scarlet fever can affect people of all ages, but it is most often seen in children.
5. It is called scarlet fever because of the red skin rash that accompanies it. Before the advent of antibiotics, scarlet fever was extremely serious, often causing long periods of illness, many dangerous complications, and even death. Children with scarlet fever used to be immediately isolated and quarantined, and entire schools and neighbourhoods panicked when a case was discovered.
6. Today, however, scarlet fever has declined in incidence and, when it does occur, in severity. Recovery is rapid and complete when antibiotics are administered promptly, and most of the potentially dangerous complications can be prevented if the full course of treatment is followed.
7. Scarlet fever is almost identical to streptococcal pharyngitis, commonly called strep throat, and is frequently referred to as “strep throat with a rash.” The major difference between the two illnesses is that the scarlet fever bacterium gives rise to an antigen called the erythrogenic (“redness-producing”) toxin, which is responsible for the characteristic rash.
8. Scarlet fever was once a very serious childhood disease, but now is easily treatable. It is caused by the streptococcal bacteria, which produce a toxin that leads to the hallmark red rash of the illness.
9. The main risk factor is infection with the bacteria that causes strep throat. A history of strep throat or scarlet fever in the community, neighborhood, or school may increase the risk of infection.
10. The time between becoming infected and having symptoms is short, generally 1 – 2 days. The illness typically begins with a fever and sore throat. The rash usually first appears on the neck and chest, then spreads over the body. It is described as “sandpapery” in feel. The texture of the rash is more important than the appearance in confirming the diagnosis. The rash can last for more than a week. As the rash fades, peeling (desquamation) may occur around the fingertips, toes, and groin area.

S: 1, 2 & 3. OED – (last access: 5 September 2014); FCB. 4, 5 & 6. EncBrit – (last access: 15 December 2013). 7, 8, 9 & 10. MEDLP – (last access: 15 December 2013).

SYN: 1. scarlatina. 2. benign scarlet fever, pharyngitis with a rash.

S: 1. EncBrit – (last access: 15 December 2013). 2. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 15 December 2013).

CR: fever