- The disease also has other names: Roseola infantum, exanthematous fever and three-day-rash.
- Although most small children catch it, it's one of the lesser-known children's diseases that causes a rash.
- It's only seen in children from the age of six months to three years – and it's highly contagious.
How is three-day-fever contracted?
The cause of the disease is unknown, but it's probably because of a virus that's transferred through the respiratory tract.
The incubation period - from infection to symptoms appearing - is 10 to 15 days.
The child is probably infectious during the whole period of the disease and maybe even before the high temperature.
What are the symptoms of three-day-fever?
- It begins with a sudden high temperature up to 40ºC. The temperature lasts for about three days.
- In some cases febrile fits follow the high temperature. These may seem dramatic and alarming. Febrile fits are not caused by the duration of fever as such, but are due to the sudden high rise in temperature.
- The rash appears when the temperature suddenly drops again after about three days. It usually begins on the body and spreads to the arms and legs. It's seldom seen in the face.
- The rash consists of pale, reddish spots, perhaps with small heads. It lasts for about 12 to14 hours. Then it's over.
How is three-day-fever different from other childhood diseases?
It's important that parents of small children know the disease and its characteristic symptoms. It's necessary to distinguish it from other children's diseases, particularly measles.
- Three-day-fever does not begin with cold-like symptoms, as measles does. At first there's only a high temperature.
- In measles, the temperature runs high again when the rash appears. With three-day-fever, the temperature drops to normal when the rash appears.
- The rash characteristically begins on the body and seldom appears on the face. Both measles and German measles appear on the face to begin with.
How does the doctor make the diagnosis?
The typical course of a three-day-fever, followed by a rash, is so characteristic for this children's disease that it's not hard to recognise it from the above symptoms.
How is three-day-fever treated?
The child should be given medication – such as paracetamol (eg Calpol) and ibuprofen (eg Nurofen for children) – to control the fever and to help with any associated aches and pains.
Make sure the child drinks plenty of fluids in the three days that the temperature lasts. The rash isn't particularly itchy.
Children can go back to childcare when their temperature has returned to normal.
The disease follows the course described above. There are no known complications, and it's a self-limiting condition. Catching it once gives lifelong immunity.
Can children be vaccinated against three-day-fever?
There's no vaccine against this disease.