Epidemiology of herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 in Italy: a seroprevalence study over 15 years


Herpes simplex virus


Introduction: Herpes simplex viruses (HSV) are among the most widespread human viral infections. HSV-2 is one of the commonest causes of genital disease, while HSV-1 is associated primarily with orolabial ulceration; however, recent changes in HSV epidemiology showed an increase in genital and neonatal herpes particularly caused by HSV-1. This serosurvey aims to assess the seroprevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 in a random population in Siena (central Italy) in 2000, 2005 and 2013-2014 and in Bari (southern Italy) in 2005. Moreover, a preliminary survey in a population of pregnant women and infants in Bari in 2003, 2004 and 2005 aims to highlight the spread of HSV as congenital and neonatal infection.

Methods: Human serum samples were tested for the presence of specific anti-HSV-1 and anti-HSV-2 IgG antibodies by ELISA commercial test.

Results and conclusions: Seroprevalence rates found in Siena were compared over the years and with seroprevalence rate found in Bari. Results of seroprevalence in Siena show a decreased trend for both viruses, especially in adolescents and young adults; moreover, HSV-2 seroprevalence rates found in the two cities suggest geographical differences. No significant difference in prevalence rates were found among pregnant women, while results indicate both viruses as a source of infection in infants.



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