Newer Approaches to Perinatal Herpes Simplex Virus Testing
The prevalence of genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections in the United States as estimated from “first office visits” has increased 9-fold over the period from 1966 to 1984 (Centers for Disease Control, 1986). The incidence of neonatal HSV infections has also increased, as reported from King County, Washington, from 2.6 to 28.2 per 100,000 live births over the period from 1966 to 1982 (Sullivan-Bolyai et al. 1983). In Southern California we have experienced similar increases from 2 cases in 1982 (8.2/100,000 live births) to 6 and 7 cases in 1985 and 1986 (25.5/100,000). The mortality associated with neonatal HSV infections has decreased with antiviral therapy from 80% to 15% of the cases with central nervous system (CNS) and to 50% of cases with disseminated disease (Stagno and Whitley, 1985). One third to one-half of these treated infants, however, have neurologic sequelae which may appear as late as 1 to 2 years after treatment (Whitley et al. 1980, 1986).
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