studies with a subunit vaccine will be undertaken in the future in pregnant women or those about to conceive.
Significant progress has been made in the diagnosis and management of neonatal HSV infection over the past two decades. Nevertheless, this disease continues to increase among all socioeconomic groups of our society. As the disease has become recognized in the United States, it has become similarly an ever-increasing problem in third world countries. The lack of adequate health care delivery systems in third world countries should cause greater attention to vaccine development. Future efforts must be directed toward the prevention of this disease rather than treatment after its occurrence.
Herpes simplex virus infections of humans have been known since ancient times. Contemporary society has witnessed a series of devastating manifestations of herpes simplex virus infections—namely, genital herpes simplex virus infection and neonatal herpes simplex virus infection. With the evolution of society, particularly advances in birth control and increasing promiscuity, the seroprevalence of herpes simplex virus type 2 infections has increased worldwide, however, more so in developed societies. As a consequence, individuals of child-bearing age are at risk for either reactivation of herpes simplex virus at termination of gestation or acquisition of a new primary infection at that time. The consequences of vertical transmission of herpes simplex virus from mother to child, resulting in neonatal herpes simplex virus infection, can be devastating. Current efforts, which are directed toward the treatment of neonatal herpes, have established the value of drugs such as vidarabine and acyclovir. However, the real emphasis for future programs is the prevention of herpes simplex virus infections to avoid person-to-person transmission either horizontally or vertically. The development of vaccines directed against herpes simplex virus may be of value toward this end.
1. Nahmias, A. J. & Dowdle, W. R. (1968) Prog. Med. Virol. 10 110–159.
2. Wildy, P. (1973) in The Herpesviruses, ed. Kaplan, A. S. (Academic, New York), pp. 1–25.
3. Hutfield, D. C. (1966) Br. J. Vener. Dis. 42. 263–268.