Objective: Investigation of the incidence of neonatal herpes in the Netherlands between 1992 and 1998.
Design: Inventory questionnaire survey.
Methods: All virological laboratories in the Netherlands were sent a questionnaire on the number of culture proven cases of neonatal herpes recorded between 1992 and 1998 and on the type of herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2). The gynaecological and paediatric departments of all university hospitals and of half of the general hospitals were sent questionnaires as well. Gynaecologists were asked how often caesarean section was performed in order to prevent neonatal herpes and how frequently pregnant women were seen with genital herpes. Paediatricians were asked how often they observed neonatal herpes, the type of HSV and the possible transmission route. Based on these data the figures for the whole of the Netherlands were estimated.
Results: The incidence of neonatal herpes in the Netherlands in the period 1992 to 1998 was 2.4 per 100,000 neonates. HSV-1 was the cause of neonatal herpes in 73%, HSV-2 in 9%, and in 18% of the cases the type of infection was not recorded. The number of pregnant women with genital herpes had increased, but, in agreement with a consensus statement, the gynaecologists hardly performed caesarean sections any more to prevent neonatal herpes (2 per year).
Conclusions: The incidence of neonatal herpes in the Netherlands had not increased. There was no predominant role of HSV type 2 causing neonatal herpes.