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A highly contagious virus
Roseola infantum, otherwise known as the sixth disease is a viral infection that affects mostly infants and toddlers. Adults are often immune after having the illness during childhood.
It is caused by the virus called human herpesvirus 6 and 7.
The virus is contagious and the spread is often through saliva and respiratory droplets when an infected child coughs, sneezes or talks.
Affects mostly children of ages
The typical age of the child who gets roseola infantum is between 6 months and 3 years of age.
The incubation period for roseola is about 7-10 days. Meaning symptoms can develop 7-10 days after contracting the virus. Your child is no longer infectious about 24 hours after the fever resolved.
The child may develop a high fever that can last 3 to 7 days. The fever can typically be very high, above 39 degrees celcius and can precipitate a febrile seizure in 10-15% of cases.
In addition, they may develop flu like symptoms such as
- runny nose and cough
- sore throat
- swollen lymph nodes
- sometimes even diarrhoea.
Classically, a rash tends to appear.
Typically pink or red spots or red patches will appear on the tummy that may spread subsequently to the back and limbs and even the face. They are not itchy or painful and may resolve within 2-3 days.
Having said that, it Is entirely possible also that your child may have contracted roseola without knowing it as it may just be a passing fever without any other symptoms.
Treatment of roseola is symptomatic. There is no antibiotics for it. Ensure that your child stays well hydrated. Bring down the fever with anti-fever medications and sponging. Otherwise they would make a complete recovery.
There is no vaccine against roseola. You can protect others by keeping your child at home until the fever has been gone more than 24hours.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)