Cases of scarlet fever in Scotland have soared to the highest level in a decade.

So far this year, 383 people have been diagnosed with the illness - three times more than the same period in 2007.

The last time there were more than 400 cases of scarlet fever, which causes a rash and very sore throat, was in 1999.

Children under eight are the most likely to suffer from it.

Dr Jim McMenamin, consultant epidemiologist at Health Protection Scotland, said the infection spreads in cycles.

He added: "When the bug is circulating widely, people become exposed without realising and develop immunity. For a few years, levels of the illness drop, until the next generation are vulnerable to the bacteria."

Symptoms include a sore throat and a rash across the neck and chest. This spreads over limbs within a day.

Sufferers' cheeks can be flushed and their tongues can develop a thick white coating.

It is usually treated with antibiotics. But if left untreated, it can lead to blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome.