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Viral Infections in Childhood: Roseola Infantum

Description

Roseola Infantum , also called sixth disease , exanthem subitum or pseudorubella , is a contagious viral illness that causes a high fever and a rash, most often in children younger than 2 years old. Roseola tends to spread in crowded places, like malls and day-care centres, and outbreaks are especially common during the spring and early summer months in northern climates. Roseola is caused by the human herpes simplex virus type 6 , which is a different form of herpes virus than the ones that cause either cold sores or sexually transmitted herpes infections. Since adults and older children rarely suffer from roseola, experts believe that one attack of roseola during early childhood may protect a person from the illness for many years, or possibly for life. Once a child is exposed to someone with roseola, it usually takes 5 to 15 days for symptoms to appear. Because of the high fevers seen in children with roseola, this illness is one of the most likely triggers for febrile seizures (convulsions induced by fever) with estimates ranging from 5 - 35 % of children with roseola.

Symptoms and Signs

Generally the first sign of roseola in a child is the sudden development of a high fever 39°C - 40.5°C (102 - 105F). Despite the high fever, the child is usually alert and active. The lymph nodes at the back of the head, the sides of the neck, and behind the ears may be enlarged. The spleen may also be slightly enlarged. Fever usually lasts 3 to 4 days, then suddenly disappears, just as the roseola rash begins on the child's trunk, spreading to the limbs and neck and involving the face and legs. The rash is spotty, pinkish or red, and may fade in just a few hours. At the most, it lasts for 1 or 2 days. Within 1 week, most children with roseola are well again.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctors often cannot diagnose roseola until the child's fever drops and the roseola rash appears. A child's temperature may be lowered by using non-aspirin fever medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin should be avoided as there is always the risk of Reye's syndrome . Since children with high fevers can lose lots of body water, the child should be given lots of fluids and be checked for signs of dehydration (abnormally low levels of body water). These include irritability, dry lips and tongue, crying without tears and a dry diaper for several hours.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Intelihealth.com, Children's Health Section: http://www.intelihealth.com/


Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt
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Roseola Infantum
    From HONselect
     (def;articles & more)   

Exanthema Subitum
Herpesvirus 6, Human

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Exanthema Subitum
Herpesvirus 6, Human
 

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  http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/MotherChild/child_virus/virus_roseola.html Last modified: Jun 25 2002