Surveillance of neonatal herpes simplex virus starts this month

This British Paediatrics Surveillance Unit study will assess the current disease burden of herpes simplex virus (HSV), and help to inform future practice on detection, prevention and management of this dangerous disease.

HSV infection is very common and typically causes benign infections, for example, cold sores. In young infants it is rare, but can lead to devastating consequences.

It can present as disseminated disease (affecting the blood), meningoencephalitis (affecting the brain) - both of which have high rates of mortality and morbidity - or the less severe skin/eye/mouth (SEM) disease.

HSV can be transmitted to infants from their mother during pregnancy or delivery, or after birth from kissing or touching an active HSV lesion.

The incidence of neonatal herpes is thought to have increased over the last few years. So we need to collect information to assess the current disease burden to inform future practice on detection, prevention and management of this dangerous disease.

We aim to do this through a study of all cases of neonatal HSV in infants under 90 days of age in the UK and Ireland over a two-year period and follow up each case for one year. 

More about this study