What is roseola?

Roseola infantum is a viral illness that mostly affects infants and toddlers. Infected children generally have a high fever followed by the development of a rash.

Who might get roseola?

Anyone can get roseola, but the virus mostly affects children between the age of 6 months and 3 years. The virus is contagious, even before the rash develops, and can be spread through saliva or other respiratory droplets when an infected child coughs, sneezes or talks. After you have had roseola, your immune system forms defenses against it. For this reason, most people are unlikely to be infected twice.

What causes roseola?

Roseola is also called sixth disease because the human herpesvirus (HHV) type 6 most often causes the illness. Less frequently, it can also be due to HHV type 7 or another virus.

What are the symptoms of roseola?

Symptoms of roseola appear about ten days after infection. The first sign of illness is a high fever (often above 103° F or 39.5° C). This fever can last from three to seven days. Once the fever goes away, a rash often appears on their stomach that may spread to their back, neck and arms. It is made of pink or red spots and not itchy or painful. The rash can fade after a few hours but may be noticeable for one to two days.

Children with roseola may also develop cold- or flu-like symptoms, including:

How long is roseola contagious?

After your child’s temperature is back to normal for 24 hours, your child is no longer contagious (even if the rash is still there). A normal temperature ranges between 97.5° F and 99.5° F (35.4° C and 37.5° C). A fever is a temperature at or above 100.4° F (38° C).

Is it possible to have roseola and not know it?

It is entirely possible that your child (or you as a child) had the virus that causes roseola without knowing it. Kids get fevers for lots of reasons. If your child does not get a roseola rash (two-thirds of kids don’t), you may chalk up the fever to some other illness and never know that your child has had roseola.

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