Supercharged ‘clones’ spark scarlet fever’s re-emergence

7 Oct 2020

Scarlet fever is on the rise worldwide, after being almost eradicated by the 1940s.

A University of Queensland-led team of international researchers says supercharged “clones” of the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes are to blame for the resurgence of the disease, which has caused high death rates for centuries.

UQ’s Dr Stephan Brouwer said health authorities globally were surprised when an epidemic was detected in Asian countries in 2011.   

“This global re-emergence of scarlet fever has caused a more than five-fold increase in disease rate and more than 600,000 cases around the world.”

This research was a collaboration between UQ, Telethon Kids Institute, University of Wollongong, Western University (Canada), the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (University of Melbourne), University of Cambridge, University of California San Diego, The University of Hong Kong and the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

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