Scarlet fever: The 11 areas of England and Wales with the most infections last week

Rates of scarlet fever are unusually high for this time of year. But which parts of England and Wales are hardest hit?

Scarlet fever is at far higher levels than usual for this time of year, according to public health experts.

Thanks to antibiotics, most cases these days are mild and easily treated. But the highly contagious infection is caused by the Strep A bacteria, which in rare circumstances can enter the bloodstream and cause a potentially fatal illness called invasive Group A Strep (iGAS).

This serious illness has killed 60 people across England so far since September 12, including 13 under-18s. Two further child deaths have been reported in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Every three or four years the country sees a winter with higher than average scarlet fever and Strep A rates, but this year’s outbreak has happened unusually early in the year, the UK Health Security Agency said.

In the 12 weeks from 12 September to 4 December, there have been 6,601 scarlet fever cases reported, more than double the 2,538 seen by the same point in 2017, the last comparably high season.

Here are the local authority areas of England and Wales which reported the highest number of scarlet fever cases in the week ending 4 December.