How serious is herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE)?

Updated: Jul 17, 2018
  • Author: Wayne E Anderson, DO, FAHS, FAAN; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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Answer

Despite advances in antiviral therapy over the past 2 decades, herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) remains a serious illness with significant risks of morbidity and death. [1, 2, 3] Herpes simplex encephalitis occurs as 2 distinct entities:

  • In children older than 3 months and in adults, HSE is usually localized to the temporal and frontal lobes and is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).

  • In neonates, however, brain involvement is generalized, and the usual cause is herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which is acquired at the time of delivery.


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