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Herpes Simplex in Emergency Medicine Follow-up

  • Author: Rahul Sharma, MD, MBA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM  more...
 
Updated: Oct 27, 2015
 

Further Outpatient Care

Oral medication (see Medication): Topical acyclovir is only minimally helpful in patients with primary disease and is probably ineffective in recurrent episodes.

Burroughs Wellcome Co maintains a registry for monitoring outcome in pregnant women exposed to acyclovir; physicians should register patients at (800) 722-9292, extension 58465.

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Further Inpatient Care

Admission for patients with herpes simplex is necessary in the following instances:

  • Encephalitis
  • Severe gingivostomatitis causing decreased ability to tolerate oral fluids
  • Immunocompromised patients with severe or disseminated disease
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Deterrence/Prevention

HSV-2 is an STD. Patients and all sexual contacts should be tested and treated for accompanying STDs.

Practice abstinence when lesions are present.

Always use condoms because of the potential for asymptomatic viral shedding.

Health care personnel (especially medical, dental) should use universal precautions (eg, gloves) to prevent herpetic whitlow.

Experimental vaccines are currently in clinical trials.

Use sunscreen to decrease herpes labialis recurrences.

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Complications

Encephalitis: Rare complication of herpetic infection; commonly HSV-1 (hypothesized to spread to the brain via neural routes after primary or recurrent infection)

Neonatal infections: Range from mild localized infection to a fatal disseminated disease; HSV-2 usually spread via the maternal genital tract; congenital infections possible

Compromised host: Progressive and disseminated disease possible

Genital infection: Acute urinary retention

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Prognosis

Genital HSV-2 infection has a high recurrence rate. More than 85% of patients with one symptomatic episode will experience another. Recurrences may be frequent; 38% of the population with genital herpes have more than 6 recurrences per year; 20% have more than 10 recurrences per year.

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Patient Education

Antiviral therapy may decrease the clinical manifestations of the disease but does not cure it.

Initiate antiviral therapy as soon as possible after the patient notes symptoms.

Consider prophylaxis for patients who have more than 6 recurrences per year.

Educate patient that HSV-2 is an STD. Follow deterrence measures.

Referral to support groups: The American Social Health Association (ASHA) operates the National Herpes Hotline (919-361-8488), which provides educational materials and counseling for patients.

For excellent patient education resources, visit eMedicine's Sexually Transmitted Diseases Center and Teeth and Mouth Center. Also, see eMedicine's patient education articles Genital Herpes and Oral Herpes.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Rahul Sharma, MD, MBA, FACEP Medical Director and Associate Chief of Service, NYU Langone Medical Center, Tisch Hospital Emergency Department; Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine

Rahul Sharma, MD, MBA, FACEP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, American Association for Physician Leadership, Phi Beta Kappa, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Eric L Weiss, MD, DTM&H Medical Director, Office of Service Continuity and Disaster Planning, Fellowship Director, Stanford University Medical Center Disaster Medicine Fellowship, Chairman, SUMC and LPCH Bioterrorism and Emergency Preparedness Task Force, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Surgery (Emergency Medicine), Stanford University Medical Center

Eric L Weiss, MD, DTM&H is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, American Medical Association, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Southeastern Surgical Congress, Southern Oncology Association of Practices, Southern Clinical Neurological Society, Wilderness Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, LeConte Medical Center

Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Lawrence C Brilliant, MD Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Primary Care and Community Services, MCP Hahnemann University; Attending Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Doylestown Hospital

Lawrence C Brilliant, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Robin R Hemphill, MD, MPH Associate Professor, Director, Quality and Safety, Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine

Robin R Hemphill, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

References
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Cutaneous vesicles characteristic of herpes simples virus infection
Herpes labialis
Penile infection with herpes simplex virus type 2
Tzanck smear showing a multinucleated giant cell
Herpes simplex virus dendritic ulcer with fluorescein staining.
Genital herpes infection
 
 
 
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