Neonatal herpes simplex virus infections

Academic Article


  • Neonatal herpes simplex virus infections are a common problem in the United States, occurring at an incidence of one in approximately 3,500 deliveries. In the absence of antiviral therapy significant morbidity and mortality is attendant with disease. Disease manifestations in the newborn include multiorgan involvement (disseminated disease), encephalitis, and/or infection limited to the skin, eye, or mouth. These three broad classifications provide distinctions in severity of disease for evaluation of outcome following antiviral therapy. The availability of antiviral therapy for life‐threatening disease, particularly that which is disseminated or involves the brain, has been of particular benefit for children with neonatal herpes. Both acyclovir and vidarabine have proven effective in the management of neonatal herpes simplex virus infection. With current therapeutic modalities, mortality from disease localized to the skin, eye, and mouth is virtually nonexistent, yet a few children (approximately 5%) are still at risk for a long‐term neurologic sequelae. For babies with encephalitis, the mortality has been reduced to approximately 15% and nearly 50% of survivors develop normally 3 years after treatment. Outcome with disseminated infection is of less value as mortality remains high (50%), but the number of survivors who develop normally is approximately 85%. The introduction of new antivirals with enhanced lipophilicity and, potentially, greater activity in the central nervous system may further improve outcome from this devastating disease. Copyright © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Whitley RJ
  • Start Page

  • 13
  • End Page

  • 21
  • Volume

  • 41
  • Issue

  • 1 S