Roseola, commonly known as the sixth disease, is also called roseola infantum, and exanthem subitem. It is a viral disease and commonly affects the children between the age of 6 months to 2 years. The two common viruses which can cause Roseola are human herpesvirus (HHV) type 6 and type 7. These viruses belong to the same family called herpes simplex virus (HSV). Roseola is usually marked with high fever for several days which is followed by a distinctive red rash when the fever breaks.
Signs and Symptoms:
Initially, for 5 to 15 days after being infected by the virus, a child may not show any symptom of the disease. When the symptoms do appear, the first thing to be noticed will be the high fever (often higher than 103-degrees F) that lasts for up to a week. During this time, a child might become irritable or fussy. A loss of appetite may occur and the child eats less than the usual amount. The child may have a swelling in the lymph nodes. After the high fever ends (it may end abruptly), at about the same time a pinkish-red rash starts to appear on the trunk and the spot turns white when touched. The rash then spreads to arms, legs, neck, and face. The fast-rising fever may trigger febrile seizures in the child. Some signs of these seizures include unconsciousness, loss of control over bladder and bowel movements, jerking and twitching in the arms, legs, and face.
The sixth disease is contagious. The infection may spread when a child already infected with roseola virus talks, coughs or sneezes in the vicinity of other children who can breathe in the tiny droplets suspended in the air. The droplets may land on surfaces and if the children touch the contaminated surface and then their mouth or nose, the infection can still be transmitted. Roseola is contagious only in the fever phase. Once the rash breaks out, it stops spreading.
The high fever may last up to 3 to 7 days, either continuously or may come and go. This is followed by the distinctive rash which can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Roseola is diagnosed by the doctors due to the telltale symptoms of high fever followed by the red rash. No lab tests are required usually. However, if the child develops other symptoms and becomes extremely sick, the doctor may have blood and urine tested.
The Sixth disease cannot be treated with antibiotics as it is a viral disease. The doctor will treat the symptoms to make the child comfortable. Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen might be recommended for the high fever. Aspirin should not be given to a child suffering from the viral disease as it may lead to Reye syndrome which can cause liver failure and death.
There is no known vaccine or method to prevent Roseola. However, as it affects children rather than adults, it is thought that if a child gets infected from Roseola, it can provide a lasting immunity against the disease. Repeat cases of Roseola, though they can happen, are quite rare.