Herpes, Neonatal

Herpes, Neonatal

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

Important

It is possible that the main title of the report Herpes, Neonatal is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Synonyms

  • Herpes Simplex Infection of Newborn
  • Herpesvirus Hominis Infection of Newborn

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Neonatal herpes is a rare disorder affecting newborn infants infected with the herpes simplex virus (HSV), also called herpesvirus hominis. In most instances, a parent with oral or genital herpes transfers the disorder to an offspring before, during, or shortly after birth. Symptoms vary from mild to severe depending on which of two types of herpes simplex virus is involved. Type 1 HSV is responsible for the more severe cases of the disorder while patients with Type 2 HSV usually present with milder symptoms.



Another way of classifying this disorder depends on probable outcomes (prognosis). Using prognosis as the classifying principal yields three forms:



1. disseminated neonatal herpes infection

2. central nervous sytem herpes in the neonate

3. mucocutaneous and ocular herpes

Symptoms

Disseminated Neonatal Herpes Infection (about 25% of cases)

In this form, the disorder spreads to involve organs throughout the body.

Viral infections may spread to the lungs (pneumonitis), the liver (hepatitis), or the circulatory system (disseminated intravascular coagulation) that may lead to infections of the brain covering (encephalitis), rashes on the skin (exanthem), and inflammation of the cornea and the tissue surrounding it (keratoconjunctivitis).



The disorder usually becomes obvious between 9 and 11 days after birth. However, presentation may be delayed for as long as 30 days.



Central Nervous Sytem Herpes in the Neonate (about 35% of cases)

This form is usually indicated by irritability, seizures, spiking temperatures (thermal instability), poor feeding and a bulging soft spot (fontanel) on top of the head. Such signs will suggest that tests of the infant's central spinal fluid (CSF) be made. Some 25%-40% of the cases will be positive for HSV cultures. Other signs indicated by CSF tests include an abnormally high number of cells in the CSF (pleocytosis) as well as high concentrations of protein (proteinosis).



The disorder is usually evident between five and nine days after birth.



Mucocutaneous and Ocular Herpes (about 40% of cases)

Patients with this form of the disorder present with the disease localized to the skin, mouth, and/or eyes. Laboratory tests, including liver and chest X-rays, are normal with no evidence of internal organ (visceral) involvement or neurological deficits. Cultures for the presence of the HSV will be positive, as will tests for the HSV antigen.



The disorder usually becomes obvious between 15 and 17 days after birth. However, presentation may be delayed for as long as 30 days.

Causes

Neonatal herpes is caused by an infection of the newborn by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).



In 80% to 90% of cases, the disease is acquired during the period beginning with the fifth month of pregnancy and extending to the twenty-fifth day after birth (the perinatal period) via an infected maternal delivery tract or, if the fetus is in the uterus, by an ascending infection. Infection may occur even if the membranes associated with birth are intact, i.e. before the sac is broken. An asymptomatic mother who shows no signs of herpes infection may breast-feed an infant with milk that contains the herpes virus, thus infecting the infant. Rarely, an attendant at the birthing process may also transfer his or her infection to the newborn child if sterile precautions are not adequate.

Affected Populations

Neonatal Herpes is a very rare disorder. It affects about 1 in 5,000 to 7,500 live births. During their first year of life, these infants usually develop antibodies against the Herpes virus. Only malnourished infants, those with an impaired immune system, or otherwise weakened infants tend to carry the infection after one year.



Infants born to a mother with a first time Herpes infection late in her pregnancy are at higher risk to develop Neonatal Herpes than infants of mothers with recurrent Herpes infection. In the first case the mother has not yet developed antibodies against the virus which would ordinarily protect her baby.

Standard Therapies

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of neonatal herpes is difficult and requires the physician to maintain a high level of skepticism and wariness. Frequently, neither parent is aware that he or she is carrying the virus. HSV infection must be considered for any neonate presenting with non-specific symptoms such as fever, poor feeding, lethargy and/or seizure. Any rash accompanyied by fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) should be cultured for HSV, and because such tests take days before the results are known, anti-viral treatment should be started.



Treatment

If a pregnant woman or her sexual partner is carrying herpes virus, their physician should be notified as soon as possible in anticipation of the baby becoming infected during the birth process. Baby and mother may be cultured at birth. If tests are positive, treatment of the virus can be started immediately after birth.



When a mother shows signs of a genital herpes infection, delivery by cesarian section is advised.



Acyclovir (Zovirax) and vidarabine (Ara-A, Vira-A), are the drugs most commonly used to treat herpes virus infections. If treatment is started early enough, the disorder usually remains restricted to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, and does not progress to the more serious forms.

Investigational Therapies

Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov. All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.



For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:



Tollfree: (800) 411-1222

TTY: (866) 411-1010

Email: prpl@cc.nih.gov



For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:

www.centerwatch.com

References

TEXTBOOKS

Beers MH, Berkow R., eds. The Merck Manual, 17th ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 1999:2186-87.



Corey L. Herpes Simplex Viruses. In: Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ, et al. Eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed.McGraw-Hill Companies. New York, NY; 1998:1084-85.



Grose C. Viral Infections of the Fetus and Newborn. In: Behrman RE, Kliegman RM, Arvin AM. Eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 15th ed. W.B. Saunder Company. Philadelphia, PA; 1996:523-25.



REVIEW ARTICLES

Enright AM, Prober CG. Neonatal herpes infection: diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Semin Neonatol. 2002;7:283-91.



Whitley RJ. Herpes simplex virus infection. Semin Pediatr Infect Dis. 2002;13:6-11.



Baker DA. Issues and management of herpes in pregnancy. Int J Fertil Womens Med. 2002;47:129-35.



Donahue DB. Diagnosis and treatment of herpes simplex infection during pregnancy. J Obstet Gynocol Neonatal Nurs. 2002;31:129-35.



Kesson AM. Management of neonatal simplex virus infection. Paediatr Drugs. 2001;3:81-90.



JOURNAL ARTICLES

Watts DH, Brown ZA, Money D, et al. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acyclovir in late pregnancy for the reduction of herpes simplex virus shedding and cesarean delivery. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003;188:836-43.



Brown ZA, Wald A, Morrow RA, et al. Effect of serological status and cesarean delivery on transmission rates of herpes simplex virus from mother to infant. JAMA. 2002;289:203-09.



Toth C, Harder S, Yager J. Neonatal herpes encephalitis: a case series and review of clinical presentation. Can J Neurol Sci. 2003;30:36-40.



Lipsitch M, Davis G, Corey L. Potential benefits of a seriodiagnostic test for herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) to prevent neonatal HSV-1 infection. Sex Transm Dis 2002;29:399-405.



Rudnick CM, Hoekzema GS. Neonatal herpes simplex virus infections. Am Fam Physician. 2002;15:1138-42.



Levin MJ, Weinberg A, Leary JJ, et al. Development of acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus early during the treatment of herpes neonatorum. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2001;20:1094-97.



Kimberlin DW, Lin CY, Jacobs RF, et al. Natural history of herpes simplex virus infections in the acyclovir era. Pediatrics. 2001;108:223-29.



FROM THE INTERNET

Strandjord TP. Neonatal Herpes. NICU-WEB. University of Washington Academic Medical Center. Last Revised: 9/18/01. 8pp.

www.neonatal.peds.washington.edu/NICU-WEB/HSV/hsv.stm



The Prognosis for Many Infants with Neonatal Herpes Simplex Virus Infection Remains Poor. Medscape. 2001:4pp.

www.medscape.com/viewarticle/418193



Wong T, Burton S, Steben M. Neonatal Herpes Simplex Virus Infection. Canadian Paediatric Society. 2001:6pp.

www.cps.ca/english/CPSP/Resources/Rneonatalherpes.htm



Neonatal herpes simplex. GPnotebook. 2003:4pp.

www.gpnotebook.co.uk/simplepage.cfm?ID=-113967060



CDC. STD Prevention. 3. Preventing Neonatal Herpes. Last reviewed; December 14, 2002. 2pp.

www.cdc.gov/nchstp/dstd/Reports_Piblications/part3.htm



FOR NON-CLINICIANS

Ebel C, Wald A. Managing Herpes: How to Live and Love with a Chronic STD. 3rd Ed. American Social Health Association. Research Triangle

Park: NC. 272pp.



Understanding Herpes. American Social Health Association. Research Triangle Park: NC. 16pp.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Atlanta, GA 30333

Tel: (404)639-3534

Tel: (800)232-4636

TDD: (888)232-6348

Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov

Internet: http://www.cdc.gov/



NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Office of Communications and Government Relations

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Bethesda, MD 20892-6612

Tel: (301)496-5717

Fax: (301)402-3573

Tel: (866)284-4107

TDD: (800)877-8339

Email: ocpostoffice@niaid.nih.gov

Internet: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/



Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126

Tel: (301)251-4925

Fax: (301)251-4911

Tel: (888)205-2311

TDD: (888)205-3223

Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/



For a Complete Report

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