The public health imperative for a neonatal herpes simplex virus infection surveillance system

Sex Transm Dis. 2006 Mar;33(3):170-4. doi: 10.1097/01.olq.0000187203.27918.45.


About 1 in 5 sexually active adults in the United States has serologic evidence of genital herpes caused by herpes simplex virus type-2. Neonatal herpes simplex virus infection is a serious consequence of genital herpes infection. Herpes infection in neonates causes significant morbidity and neurologic damage and generally has a case-fatality ratio untreated of 60%. It is estimated that 440 to 1,320 cases of neonatal herpes infections occur in the United States per year (11-33 cases occur per 100,000 live births). Given the challenges in surveillance for genital herpes due to the large number of asymptomatic infections and infrequent laboratory-based diagnosis, we recommend that to begin an effective national control program for herpes infections, a mandatory national surveillance system for neonatal herpes be implemented. Such a system would help assure appropriate therapy, help monitor trends and understand the burden of disease, identify risk determinants, and evaluate prevention efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects
  • Disease Notification* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology
  • Herpes Genitalis / transmission
  • Herpes Simplex / diagnosis
  • Herpes Simplex / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Simplex / prevention & control*
  • Herpes Simplex / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Public Health / methods
  • United States