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Roseola
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Roseola

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Viral Illnesses

Roseola is a generally mild viral illness that usually affects babies and young children. The condition typically causes several days of fever, followed by a rash. The disease also has other names; Roseola infantum, exanthematous fever, and three-day-rash.

Two common strains of the herpes virus cause roseola. It usually affects children between 6 months and 3 years of age, though it occasionally affects adults. It's extremely common - so common, in fact, that most children have been infected by the time they enter kindergarten.

Some children develop only a very mild case of roseola and never show any clear indication of illness, while others experience the full range of signs and symptoms. The infection can occur at any time of the year.

Roseola typically isn't serious. Rarely, complications from a very high fever can result. Treatment includes bed rest, fluids and medications to reduce fever.

Screening and diagnosis

Roseola can be difficult to diagnose because initial symptoms are similar to those of other common childhood illnesses, such as the common cold or an ear infection. If it's clear that no cold, ear infection, strep throat or other common condition is present, your doctor may wait to see if the characteristic rash of roseola begins. Your doctor may tell you to look for the rash while you treat your child's fever at home.

Doctors confirm a diagnosis of roseola by the telltale rash or, in some cases, by a blood test to check for antibodies to roseola.

Complications

Occasionally children with roseola experience a seizure brought on by a rapid rise in body temperature. If this happens, your child might briefly lose consciousness and jerk his or her arms, legs or head for several seconds to minutes. He or she may also lose bladder or bowel control temporarily.

If your child has a seizure, seek emergency care. Fortunately, although frightening, fever-related seizures in otherwise healthy young children are generally short-lived and are rarely harmful.

Complications from roseola are rare. The vast majority of otherwise healthy children and adults with roseola recover quickly and completely.

Roseola is of greater concern in people whose immune system is compromised, such as those who have recently received a bone marrow or organ transplant. They may contract a new case of roseola — or a previous infection may come back while their immune system is weakened. Because they have less resistance to viruses in general, immune-compromised people tend to develop more severe cases of infection and have a harder time fighting off illness.

People with weak immune systems who contract roseola may experience potentially serious complications from the infection, such as pneumonia or encephalitis — a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the brain.

Roseola > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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