Scarlet fever is rarely seen in infants and toddlers, but it begins to increase in incidence gradually after two years of age and reaches a peak incidence just before adolescence, being most common between the ages of 6 and 12.
It is more common in temperate areas than in warmer tropical areas.
"And an outbreak in the UK has resulted in 12,000 cases since last year," he said.
Children with scarlet fever used to be immediately isolated and quarantined, and entire schools and neighbourhoods panicked when a case was discovered.
According to the NHS, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever so that early treatment with antibiotics can be given.Parents who suspect their child might have scarlet fever have been warned to see their GP as soon as possible after a spike in the number of cases.Health officials have highlighted an increase in infection rates since the new year and three cases have already been confirmed in Cornwall, while nationally hundreds are being reported every week."Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others."Read next: Meeting scheduled in St Ives to demand urgent re-opening of Edward Hain Community Hospital There has been a national upturn in the number of cases reported from September to the end of January with more cases reported in the West Midlands compared with the same period last year (369 compared with 309), London (386 compared with 336) and the North West (546 compared with 500).PHE urged parents to be vigilant, but said other regions of England are experiencing the same or lower levels of scarlet fever than last year.More than 600 cases of scarlet fever were reported in the UK last week with the numbers rising week on week since the start of the year.