Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Font Size

    Herpes Virus Sends Many Kids to the Doctor

    Common Cause of Fever and Fussiness
    WebMD Health News

    Feb. 23, 2005 -- By the age of 2 most children have become infected with a form of herpes virus that frequently causes symptoms severe enough to require a doctor's attention.

    Findings from one of the first studies to take a close look at human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) are at once reassuring and a cause for concern.

    The study shows that a high percentage of children get sick enough to require a trip to the doctor when they are infected with the virus. But the rate of serious illness was much lower than has been reported in studies that included only children who got sick enough to end up in hospital emergency rooms.

    Fever, fussiness, and runny nose were common symptoms among children with herpesvirus 6 infection in the newly reported study published in the Feb. 24 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

    "This paints a kinder, gentler picture of HHV-6 than we have seen when we looked only at kids who ended up in emergency departments," says Ohio pediatrician Keith Powell, MD, who is a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "This shows that most kids have much milder illness."

    First discovered in 1986, HHV-6 is one of eight known members of the human herpesvirus family. It does not cause cold sores, chicken pox, shingles, or genital infections, as other herpes viruses do. But it has been believed to be a major cause of childhood rash and has also been implicated as a cause of childhood seizures.

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.

    worried kid
    jennifer aniston
    Measles virus
    sick child

    Child with adhd
    rl with friends
    Child Coughing or Sneezing into Elbow