Parents are being advised to learn he signs of scarlet fever after a recent spike in the number of cases around the country.

Symptoms of the highly infectious illness include a sore throat, headache, high temperature, swollen tongue and distinctive pink rash.

Public Health England has said it is aware of cases across the country, including in Liverpool, Merseyside and Cheshire.

However, it is highly infectious and could easily head further south.

Initial symptoms usually include a sore throat, headache and a high temperature (38.3C/101F or above), flushed cheeks and a swollen tongue.

A day or two later the characteristic pinkish rash appears. It usually occurs on the chest and stomach before spreading to other areas of the body, such as the ears and neck.

The symptoms of scarlet fever usually develop two to five days after infection, although the incubation period (the period between exposure to the infection and symptoms appearing) can be as short as one day or as long as seven days.

The rash feels like sandpaper to touch and it may be itchy. On darker skin the rash may be more difficult to see although its rough texture should be apparent.

When to seek medical advice Scarlet fever usually clears up after about a week, but if you think you or your child may have it, see your GP for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.