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Fatal Herpes Virus Type I Infection in a Newborn

Dye, Daniel W. MD; Simmons, Gary T. MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 89-91
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181c2bae2
Case Report

The authors present a case of environmentally acquired fatal herpes virus type I infection in a newborn after cesarean section and a discussion of the clinical presentation, pathogenesis and diagnosis of herpes simplex type I (HSV-1) at autopsy. Herpes simplex virus, both type I and type II, are well described infectious agents in newborns. Though herpes simplex type II (HSV-2) is commonly associated with fatal neonatal infections, it is important to consider HSV-1 to make the correct diagnosis. Additionally, although HSV infections are typically acquired during parturition, it is possible to be infected postpartum from the environment as occurred in this case. The diagnosis of neonatal HSV must also be communicated by the forensic pathologist to applicable healthcare providers and health care facilities, because of public health and medicolegal issues.

From the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

Manuscript received May 18, 2009; accepted July 28, 2009.

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Reprints: Gary T. Simmons, MD, Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner Office, 1515 6th Ave. South, Rm. 220, Birmingham, AL 35233. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.