Neonatal Herpes Simplex: Let’s Get Virucidal

(c) 2011, Written by Will Blesch

As I grew up, I watched my mom coming home from work sad and depressed a lot. As a neonatal intensive care R.N. she had the opportunity (and I use that word reluctantly) to see a lot of horrible things.

Many times, there were babies so premature, or with some awful malady for which there is no cure, that there was nothing modern medicine could really do for them.

They died in pain, and their parents were left grief stricken. I am certain they felt a sense of helplessness.

I know many times doctors and nurses both have this feeling. I know my mom did. Many times the doctors leave the nurses to deal with the grieving parents, and the nurses are often as emotionally distraught on the inside as the parents are. They might not have carried the baby for nine months, but they are by the baby’s bedside through every tortuous procedure the doctors prescribe.

Sometimes, it’s not that bad. When a baby is born with, or acquires, Neonatal Herpes it is …it is that bad.

Neonatal herpes can occur when the neonate is exposed to herpes simplex virus [HSV] in the maternal genital tract during labour,” write C. Gardella and Z. Brown, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington in Seattle.

About 85% of Neonatal Herpes (HSV) infections occur during delivery, about 5% in utero, and about 10% after birth. (CDC.gov)

According to an article entitled, “Neonatal herpes: what have we learned,” there are three different ways that HSV shows up in a newborn. It can show up on the skin, eyes, or mouth (SEM), it can present itself as disseminated herpes (DIS), or central nervous system herpes (CNS).

Symptoms can include external lesions with SEM, affected liver function with DIS, and seizures, tremors and lethargy in CNS.

Of these three, disseminated herpes is the most severe form with a death rate of around 85% of those babies infected.  (CDC.gov) Neonatal HSV rates in the U.S. are estimated to be between 1 in 3,000 and 1 in 6,000 live births. In developing countries, it’s higher than that.

Perhaps you can imagine the horror of seeing a tiny body in pain, with visible sores afflicting the child.

My mom doesn’t have to imagine it. She’s seen it up close.

Medical personnel see these kinds of terrible afflictions on a regular basis. They fight hard to help these babies although there is no ready cure. It’s a great reason to respect both the doctors and nurses in your community.

As with any sexually transmitted disease…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

“Current published US and Canadian guidelines for neonatal herpes prevention focus on pregnant women with symptomatic genital herpes and recommend a thorough examination for genital lesions when labor begins.

If such lesions are identified, cesarean delivery should be performed to avoid contact with infected genital secretions. To prevent genital lesions at the time of labor, women with frequent recurrent lesions during pregnancy may be given antiviral suppressive therapy from 36 weeks of gestation until delivery.

This has been shown to reduce the risk for genital lesions that would necessitate cesarean delivery and to reduce, but not eliminate, viral shedding during delivery.” (Prevention of Neonatal Herpes Reviewed)

Despite the above criteria for prevention, rates of infection have not gone down. Some of this, I am sure is due to risky behavior on the part of one or both parents.

From an alternative medicine point of view, there are antiviral supplements out there that pregnant women who may or may not have Herpes ought to be taking. If the supplement contains cinnamon, I believe women ought to be taking it.

Why?

Cinnamon contains Eugenol, which has been scientifically shown to be virucidal. That’s right. It dispatches viruses with extreme prejudice.

Specifically, Eugenol doesn’t let the virus reproduce.

It “was tested for antiviral activity against HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses. In vitro, it was found that the replication of these viruses was inhibited in the presence of this compound.” (Phytotherapy Research)

My prescription? (I’m not a doctor and I’m not giving medical advice…just my opinion) If you don’t have HSV, make sure neither you, nor your partner is sleeping around before or after getting pregnant.

If you already have HSV-1 or HSV-2 and you are infected in the genital region…whether you are showing symptoms or not…you should be taking antiviral supplements in order to reduce the risk of passing the virus on to your baby. If your doctor prescribes an actual antiviral medicine, take that too.

However, remember that it’s not just your life you are messing with. There could be a baby either scarred for life…or dead…because of your life decisions.

Something to think about.

References:

Laurie Barclay, MD Charles P. Vega, MD “Prevention of Neonatal Herpes Reviewed” MedScape Education 13 Jan. 2011 WEB

Knezevic A, Martic J, Stanojevic M, Jankovic S, Nedeljkovic J, Nikolic L, Pasic S, Jankovic B, Jovanovic T. “Disseminated neonatal herpes caused by herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2.” Emerging Infectious Diseases, Feb. 2007

Kimberlin DW, Whitley RJ (2005). “Neonatal herpes: what have we learned”. Semin Pediatr Infect Dis 16 (1): 7–16.

Benencia F, Courrèges MC. “In vitro and in vivo activity of eugenol on human herpesvirus.” Phytotherapy Research, Nov. 2000

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