Roseola (or roseola infantum) is a viral disease caused by human herpes virus type 6 (HSV-6), and apparently sometimes HSV type 7. Roseola infections occur between 6 months and 2 or 3 years old, and are classicaly characterised by very high fever in a youngster who does not appear to be very ill. Fevers may run to 105°F or higher for up to five days. Febrile seizures can result.

The rash is variable in appearance and fades fairly quickly - hence the other name, exanthem subitum, "fleeting rash." It appears mainly on the trunk but also to some extent on th extremities. The rash does not itch, and disappears without treatment in a day or two.

HSV-6 probably is responsible for more disease than we have recognised in the past. This happens in the form of nonspecific viral illnesses with high fever that do not result in rash or result in variable rashes.

Physicians are generally reluctant to investigate the exact viral cause of these illnesses because confirmation of the virus type would require blood antibody testing on two separate occasions several weeks apart, and the child is already long since well by the time the answer is in.

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