SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - A common strain of the herpes virus is causing What's Going Around this week. Almost every child three and under will contract roseola at some point, and there is no treatment for the infection.
Roseola is a mild infection that affects almost every child by the time he or she enters school, according to Dr. Lyle Stephenson at The Pediatric Center in Sulphur.
"It makes you have a fever and then in most kids, as soon as you start running fever, you get a rash over most of your body, usually starting in the neck and trunk and then spreading to most of your body," said Dr. Stephenson.
The rash is red and splotchy, but not bumpy. Dr. Stephenson says it's very rare for older children or adults to have it.
"It normally occurs in early childhood, from about three or four months to almost three years is the latest we see it," he said.
Human herpes virus six is to blame and it is spread through contact with an infected person's respiratory secretions or saliva.
"It's droplet more than anything else," said Dr. Stephenson. "You prevent it just simply by your normal methods: handwashing, good hygiene, things like that."
Dr. Stephenson says most children recover fully from roseola within a week of the onset of fever. Over-the-counter medications can manage the fever, but that is about the only thing that will help.
"This is something that's going to get better on its own," he said. "It requires no special creams to get rid of the rash, no antibiotics to get rid of the fever. Once the rash is there, it's on its way out and you don't need any further treatment."
A child is contagious during the fever stage and 24 hours after. The good news: Dr. Stephenson says it's typically a one and done infection.
"Once you have the virus, you're very unlikely to get it again unless you have some sort of immunodeficiency," said Dr. Stephenson.