Mother Warns About Neonatal Herpes Simplex

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Ruth Schofield’s baby girl died in November 2006 at 11 days old from herpes simplex virus (HSV). She is now on a mission to warn other mothers about the disease.

HSV is a common viral infection that presents with localized blistering. There are two main types of herpes simplex virus (HSV) – Type 1 which is mainly associated with facial infections (cold sores or fever blisters) and Type 2, which is mainly genital (genital herpes).

Neonatal herpes simplex virus infections often results in serious illness and death. HSV infections in the newborn are most commonly transmitted from an infected mother during delivery. The incidence of infection is approximately one per 3,000 to 20,000 live births.

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A woman experiencing a primary episode of genital herpes simplex virus infection in the third trimester has a 33 percent chance of transmitting the virus to her infant. If active HSV infection is present at the time of delivery, cesarean section should be performed. Symptomatic and asymptomatic primary genital HSV infections are associated with preterm labor and low-birth-weight infants.

The diagnosis of neonatal HSV can be difficult, but it should be suspected in any newborn who is irritable, lethargic, has a fever or poor feeding at one week of age. Diagnosis is made by culturing the blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine and fluid from eyes, nose and mucous membranes.

Anyone with active fever blisters (mother, father, siblings, etc) should not kiss the infant as HSV-1 may be spread this way.

Miss Schofield has written to the prime minister of Great Britain asking for more literature to be put in clinics about the illness.

Sources
BBC News
American Family Physician (Neonatal Herpes Simplex)

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