Sixth Disease

Dot writes: to do her justice, the doctor did offer one more specific suggestion as to what was wrong with Frank: if, when the fever had passed, a speckledy rash like measles should appear, then what he had was Roseola, also known as Sixth Disease. Although the rash has not been extensive or spectacular Frank did get one, so we now think that’s what he had. I’m also pretty sure this is what Hugh had that time I took him to Norfolk and he was so miserably ill in May 2009; he got a fairly impressive rash after the fever had passed.

Frank seems to be on the mend, though still fretful and lacking appetite. This gives me leisure to reflect on the name ‘Sixth Disease’. I remember Hugh having Fifth Disease, which is also known as Slapped-Cheek Syndrome because of the characteristic flushing of the cheeks. But what are the other four diseases? In Frank’s case they’ve all been colds.

Note: I looked at the wikipedia page for roseola purely to link to it, but as tends to happen when you look things up on the internet it has given rise to slightly alarming reflections. Frank’s fever was lower than expected for roseola, and much lower than expected for measles. But judging by the wikipedia description, in other respects his symptoms seem more like measles: a rash on the face as well as the trunk and neck; pink-rimmed eyes (cleared up now, though); some coughing (over the weekend). Hmmm. Children under 18 months are supposed to retain measles antibodies from their mothers, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had it myself. Fortunately Hugh has been vaccinated.

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4 thoughts on “Sixth Disease

  1. Cubling, when 14 months old, had what I think was roseola. It was scary. The GP diagnosed measles, but I don’t believe it – I never had them and measles are so contagious that I would have fallen ill too (I’m not vaccinated against them). The symptoms are so similar, we had 40 degrees of fever for 3 days, I was watching over her throughout the nights for fear she may not make it through. Apparently the disease isn’t dangerous at all, unlike measles, but what good is that if all you can see is a very ill child.

    I don’t think you can diagnose either measles or roseola without a blood test because the symptoms are so similar. I don’t understand though why this is not done because an outbreak of measles should always be undesireable. The info on the wikipedia page is very US influenced, where all people are vaccinated against measles – that’s why babies there have antibodies. It doesn’t apply to Europe where the majority of the adult population hasn’t been vaccinated.

    Glad that Frank is on the mend!

    1. kenanddot

      Those are useful observations about wikipedia and blood tests. I certainly haven’t been vaccinated against measles.

      Poor Cubling. 40 is very hot. I don’t know how high Hugh’s fever got as we had no working thermometer to test him with. And when they’re so young they can’t tell you how they feel – you just see this frightening change.

      I’m altering the note at the end of the post slightly because Frank’s rash is on his face as well as his torso, not rather than his torso.

    1. kenanddot

      Thankyou. He does seem much better. He’s only been awake for a few minutes so far today, but so far he seems back to normal.

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