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Health authorities in Hong Kong are on alert due to an outbreak of scarlet fever. Two children have died from scarlet fever since May, with almost 500 cases reported so far this year. Scientists believe the bacteria responsible for the disease has mutated into a strain that may be more contagious and harder to treat.
Staff at a kindergarten where a five-year-old boy died from scarlet fever are trying to disinfect the place. The boy's death on Tuesday is the second fatal case to be reported in Hong Kong this year.
More than 450 cases have been reported this year. That's nearly double the annual average.
And the outbreak may not have peaked yet. Scientists believe the strain of bacteria that killed the five-year-old boy has mutated and is more resistant to antibiotics. It's also likely to be more contagious.
Controller of Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection, Thomas Tsang wants parents to be on high alert.
[Thomas Tsang, Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection]:
"These two fatalities are the first in a decade. If we see a spike in cases, it's likely that the chances for serious complications would also increase."
Scarlet fever is characterized by a bright red skin rash, fever and a sore throat. It commonly affects children under ten. Left untreated, it could lead to joint pain and heart damage.
A high number of cases has also been reported in southern China with 9,000 infected and in Macau with 49.
Hong Kong authorities have asked residents to be on the lookout for symptoms, and maintain good personal hygiene to prevent the spread of the disease.