Inconsistent Management of Neonatal Herpes Simplex Virus Infections

Maya W Keuning, Martijn van der Kuip, Jarne M van Hattem, Dasja Pajkrt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: The incidence of neonatal herpes simplex virus (nHSV) infections is monitored periodically in the Netherlands, yet management and outcome is unknown. Comprehensive national guidelines are lacking. We aim to describe management and outcome in the last decade to explore current diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. We aim to identify possible variability in management of patients with a suspected nHSV infection.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective case series of management and outcome of nHSV infections at 2 tertiary care center locations in the Netherlands.

RESULTS: An nHSV infection was diagnosed in 1% (12 of 1348) of patients in whom polymerase chain reaction for HSV was performed. Of the patients with nHSV infection, 3 of 12 died, and 4 of 9 (44%) survivors suffered neurologic sequelae. Neurologic symptoms at presentation were seen in only 2 of 8 patients with nHSV encephalitis. A cerebral spinal fluid analysis was performed in 3 of 6 patients presenting with skin lesions. Only 3 of 6 patients with neurologic symptoms received suppressive therapy. nHSV infection was diagnosed in 8 of 189 (4%) patients who were empirically treated.

CONCLUSIONS: Management of nHSV infection, particularly when presented with skin lesions, is inconsistent. Many infants without a HSV infection are exposed to antiviral medication. There is substantial interhospital variation in diagnostic and therapeutic management of a suspected infection. Comprehensive guidelines need to be developed to standardize management of suspected nHSV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-812
Number of pages5
JournalHospital pediatrics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2019

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