We are delighted to be co-funding the first UK wide neonatal herpes surveillance project for 25 years. This is a key first project as it will quantify the scale of the problem in the UK which is currently unknown. We believe that once these results are available, the success of campaigning for awareness and change will be much greater. 


Monitoring the prevalence and scale of herpes simplex virus disease in infants younger than 3 months


Herpes simplex (HSV) is a very common virus affecting about 70% of the UK population. It causes many different types of infections and illnesses in adults and children often just causing a cold sore. Neonatal HSV disease occurs when a baby is infected in their first few days or weeks of life. Babies can be infected if their mother has the infection during their pregnancy or delivery, or if an individual with the infection comes into very close contact with the baby in their first weeks of life. Neonatal HSV disease is rare but is devastating. Many of the babies affected will die or will suffer from long-term neurological problems.


Doctors try to reduce the number of babies who become sick from this disease by identifying those who are at greatest risk and taking steps to prevent them becoming infected, or by treating the babies very early in their illness if “typical” symptoms are present.


However at the moment they do not have enough information about the number of cases of this disease in the UK, which babies are most at risk, ways they might be able to reduce those risks, how and when treatment is being given and how often later relapses are occurring. 


This study would provide that information and we hope could be used to identify areas of improvement in current practice and provide clarification for the development of guidelines, parental advice and junior doctor training, with the aim of achieving better outcomes for babies at risk of or with neonatal HSV disease. 

Lead applicant(s)

Dr Katy Fidler, Consultant Paediatrician in Infectious Diseases, Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (RACH)

Professor Paul Heath, Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, St Georges, University of London (SGUL)

This study is a collaboration between RACH and SGUL who have been granted approval to look at neonatal HSV via the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU).

Start date and duration

2 year project commencing January 2019.


Kit Tarka Foundation £14,000 (£5,000 via the Chalk Cliff Trust)

Rockinghorse Children's Charity £12,500


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