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Is Roseola Contagious?
Q: My 13-month-old daughter had a high fever for three days and then a rash all over that looked like measles. In the emergency room, I was told she had roseola. I haven't heard of this before. What is it? Is it contagious?
A: Roseola is a very common viral illness, but is different from the virus that causes measles. It usually affects infants 6-24 months of age and occurs in all seasons of the year. Children usually have high fever (102-104 degrees Fahrenheit) for two to four days, but otherwise look well and have no other symptoms. At the same time that the fever finally goes away, the child develops a red rash from head to toe. The rash lasts one or two days and then goes away completely. The virus is spread from secretions from the nose and mouth, the same way that colds and flues are spread.
Children are thought to be contagious during the fever and until the rash appears.
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Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.