Earlier this week, we reported that a mutated strain of the bacteria that causes scarlet fever resulted in 2 deaths and a record number of cases in Hong Kong for this year. On Tuesday, authorities closed a kindergarten after early testing suggested another suspect death in a 5 year old boy. As of June 22nd, Hong Kong has reported 494 cases. Although scarlet fever occurs every year and is endemic to most of Southeast Asia, this year’s epidemic has been particularly severe. Shanghai reported 771 cases in the last month alone – a 13-fold increase compared to the same period last year, although the mutated strain has not been found to be the cause. The epidemic in Hong Kong has also caused growing concern in Macau, where 49 cases have already been reported, and also in nearby Thailand, where authorities are making all effort to assuage public fear in spite of the 524 cases that have already been reported for this year. Experts believe that with the onset of school breaking for the summer, the rate of infection could taper off as a result of reduced contact among children.