Herpes simplex virus infection in neonates and young infants with sepsis

Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2014 Feb;16(2):e14310. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.14310. Epub 2014 Feb 5.


Background: Neonatal herpes infection is the most serious complication of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) infection during pregnancy and perinatal period. Few studies have reported neonatal HSV infection in developing countries.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to detect the HSV infection among neonates and infants with sepsis.

Materials and methods: In a cross sectional study all infants aged less than 3 months, admitted to neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric emergency ward of Ghaem Hospital (a university hospital with 900 beds) in Mashhad (Northeast of Iran) with clinical diagnosis of sepsis and at least one inclusion criteria during one year from November 2009 to October 2010, were enrolled in the study. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was done on clinical samples obtained from patients.

Results: Among 150 neonates and infants younger than 3 months old with sepsis, the PCR results for detecting the HSV DNA, were positive in 6 samples of 5 patients (3.3 %). None of the mothers had symptomatic HSV infection during delivery. The mean age of the patients was 18 days. Two of them died due to shock and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).

Conclusions: In neonates and infants with primary diagnosis of sepsis, HSV infection should be considered especially if the clinical condition does not improve after 48 hours of antibiotic therapy, and sepsis still exists with elevated liver enzymes.

Keywords: Herpes Simplex; Infants; Iran; Polymerase Chain Reaction.