This benign viral infection is thought to be transmitted by saliva. Most cases are caused by human herpesvirus type 6 (HHV-6), but some cases may be attributed to HHV-7. Although transmission is through droplets, isolation is not required.
A sudden high fever of 37.9-40C (101-106F) is common and persists for 3-5 days in most children. Febrile seizures are a concern for many children.
Once the fever begins to subside, a rash appears. The rash is typically pinkish, red or raised spots that classically blanches or fades under pressure. It disappears in 1 to 2 days.
Any child with an exceptionally high fever is at risk for febrile seizures. Measures to control the fever are the primary treatment.
Submersion in tepid water is a common practice to reduce exceptionally high fevers. Be sure never to submerse a child or patient in cool or cold water. Cool packs may also be applied to older children in the groin and armpits.
Non-steroidal anti inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen are given for their anti-pyretic properties.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an analgesic medication which also has strong anti-pyretic properties.
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