Roseola is a disease caused by the human herpes virus 6 and 7, which are termed as roseolovirus. An infection caused by the roseolovirus usually affects the young children in the age group of 6 to 24 months.
Roseola is the name of a viral infection that usually affects young children. Children in the age group of 6 to 24 months are more commonly affected by this viral infection, which is caused by the human herpes virus (HHV).
The human herpes virus six (HHV-6) and seven (HHV-7) are responsible for causing this illness, though it is more commonly caused by the human herpes virus six (HHV-6). Both the viruses belong to the same family, and are often referred to as roseolovirus. Roseola infantum is the medical term used for the infection that affects infants.
Causes and Symptoms
As mentioned already, roseola is caused by HHV-6 and HHV-7. This viral infection is contagious, and it can easily spread from one person to another through contact with saliva or oral secretion. The incubation period is about 10 days, which means that the clinical symptoms of the infection can develop after 10 days from the initial exposure to the virus. The affected child can be infectious during the entire incubation period.
The typical symptoms of this infection is a high-grade fever that can last for one to five days. Such high fever can lead to febrile seizures, which can produce symptoms, like loss of consciousness, and urinary and bowel incontinence. Sometimes, the face, arms, and the legs of the child can get twitched, if the fever triggers seizures.
The fever caused by this viral infection generally subsides within a few days, after which a skin rash develops. Rashes can usually develop on the face, abdomen, neck, and the back. Areas like the trunk, arms, and the legs can also get affected by the rash. The rash disappears within 3 to 4 days, and is usually not accompanied by itching. In addition to these, this viral infection can cause cough, a runny nose, vomiting, swollen lymph glands under the neck, and diarrhea. Sometimes, the fontanelle of the child can also bulge out due to roseola.
Roseola is usually quite difficult to diagnose, as fever and skin rash can be caused by several other conditions as well. Usually, blood tests and urine culture are carried out to rule out the possibility of other infections. In general, there is no specific treatment for this viral disease. Like other viral diseases, it also runs its course, and then subsides on its own.
However, as fever can sometimes lead to seizures, it is important to reduce the body temperature with medications prescribed by the physicians. Usually, antipyretics like acetaminophen are used for reducing the fever. In the meantime, keep the child well-hydrated, and let him or her drink plenty of water or fruit juice. Infants, on the other hand, can be breastfed frequently in order to keep them well-hydrated.
Roseola and Pregnancy
Though pregnant women can get exposed to roseolovirus, it rarely causes congenital infections in babies. If a woman has been already exposed to the virus, then subsequent exposure is not likely to cause any serious problem. It has been estimated that a great majority of women have already been exposed to the virus before pregnancy, and hence an exposure during pregnancy does not carry any significant risk to the fetus.
But if a woman gets infected with the virus for the first time during pregnancy, then it can pose certain health risks to the fetus. A first time exposure during the first trimester can sometimes lead to miscarriage, while an infection during late pregnancy may result in birth defects.
Pregnant women should remain vigilant against this viral infection, and report their health care provider immediately on observing any of the aforementioned symptoms. This viral infection can sometimes cause a serious condition, known as Reye’s syndrome in infants. So, parents should carefully monitor the symptoms of this viral infection, and report a pediatrician, if the symptoms look alarming.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.