An infant born with a herpes simplex infection transmitted through the mother. The infection may be localized or involve various internal organs and even the central nervous system in which case death can occur.
* Blisters * Meningitis * Central nervous system infection * Encephalitis * Unstable temperature * Rash * Irritability * Blotchy skin * Eye discharge * Cough * Pallor * Rapid breathing * Abdominal swelling * Enlarged spleen * Seizures * Tremors * Poor feeding * Lethargy * Sensitivity to light * Tearing of eyes * Jaundice * Breathing problems * Blue appearance * Rapid breathing * Apneic spells * Bleeding tendency * Shock
Diagnosis is difficult because babies with congenital herpes may not have the characteristic blisters of the disease. In addition, many symptoms of herpes resemble other diseases or disorders. However, the following tests can diagnose congenital herpes: * Skin culture -- taking a sample of the blister by scraping or removing a piece of tissue * Blood test * Swab culture -- taking a sample with a cotton swab from the nose, throat or rectum * Urine test * CT scan or MRI scan of the head The mother and baby are usually tested simultaneously if herpes is suspected.
Infants with congenital herpes are treated with antiviral medications given intravenously (through an IV) over a period of several weeks. The most commonly used treatment for congenital herpes is called acyclovir. Other treatment may be necessary for the various symptoms of herpes.