Measles’s Brother

In my last post, I speculated that Charlie had been smitten by the goddamn German measles. Close, but no cigar.

I called the nurse’s line at the pediatrician, described the nasty rash he had originating from the torso and hitting everywhere but his forearms and his legs below the knees. It sounded like something that needed eyeballs on it, so she scheduled me as an afternoon add-on appointment, a concept I was unfamiliar with, and told me to arrive at the office at 1:45. Andy came home from work early so he could drive us, since taking a probably contagious baby on the metro didn’t seem like the responsible or pleasant choice.

1:45 is apparently when they start giving out numbers to the people who’ve been scheduled as afternoon add-ons. We were given number 3. The office is hot, it’s full of sick kids and their worried parents, and it’s a generally unpleasant place to be. It took two full hours to be seen. Fortunately, other babies are Charlie’s favorite thing right now, so he did pretty well. There were some fits, but they were fairly short-lived. Every time a new, sick baby came into the waiting room, he would smile big and make some happy grunting noises, and look like he was considering waving, and then decide against it. Andy and I, on the other hand, were pretty miserable. It took a lot of effort to try to keep Charlie far enough away from the other babies that they wouldn’t breathe on each other. I’m sure I was wholly unsuccessful, but I tried. When we were finally seen, the verdict was: Roseola.mThere’s no vaccination, and it’s HIGHLY contagious. You’re welcome, every other child and baby in the waiting room! And since we waited a stupidly long time to be seen, that’s a lot of you.


If sunglasses are this amusing, it’s not regular measles.

I had never heard of roseola, but apparently it’s one of those things that most kids get and then they’re immune forever, like chicken pox was before there was a vaccination. (Man, remember chicken pox? That was the worst.) For the uninitiated, it’s basically Measles Jr. Or, as it’s known in Iceland, “Measles’s Brother.” The rash looks just about the same, and it can come with a really high fever (and in Charlie’s case, some pretty serious fussiness), but the key difference, according to the pediatrician we saw, is whether or not the child seems epically sick. Charlie was still eating pears like it was his job, and had his wits about him enough to think that the other babies in the waiting room were awesome, so therefore, not measles. Unless his fever gets higher and the spots get darker, in which case, measles, and we should come back to the office and wait two hours to be seen again while exchanging contagion with the other emergency add-ons. Gross.

The whole thing runs its course in five days. It was Wednesday when we came home from work to find Charlie covered epic rash, and his grandad into the wine early to help him deal with the screaming. It’s now Sunday morning, and apart from some spots on his thighs and continued moodiness, we’re pretty much on the other side. So, not measles. Just Measles’s Brother.

But if measles’s whole family could stay home for the rest of Charlie’s childhood, I’d really appreciate it.



  1. I just noticed this post since I just had the same pattern rash as a mid-forties adult. In my case it was deemed to be a drug allergy from a new med. Haha…I thought measles too until I checked the pattern and remembered the new med. Glad your son is fine (relatively) and measles free!

  2. I can’t get over the fact that the Dr’s staff let you wait so long before taking Charlie in, knowing that he had a rash. Being medical people the word “rash” on a baby might have sent up a red flag with the word “contagious” written all over it! Does this merit a special name for your pediatrician? The one like
    Dr Acula had? I hope so, I love when you do that!

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