Saturday, March 26, 2011

Herpes simplex type 2 virus encephalitis presenting as psychosis

Kalarickal J. Oommen, M.D.,

Peter C. Johnson, M.D.

C. George Ray, M.D.
Kalarickal J. Oommen, M.D.


Requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Peter C. Johnson, Department of Pathology, Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Arizona 85724.

From the Departments of Neurology, Pathology and Pediatrics, Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Arizona.

Accepted 20 January 1982.


The current literature recognizes two antigenic types of herpes simplex virus, type 1 and 2. Type 1 is the most common cause of sporadic necrotizing encephalitis in the United States, with a mortality rate of 30 to 70 percent, and leaves various neurologic sequelae in the survivors. Herpes simplex virus type 2 has been recognized as an etiologic agent in fatal infections in neonates and a mild meningitis in adults, but its role in encephalitis in adults is less well known. We report a case of herpes simplex virus type 2 encephalitis with an analysis of four additional cases previously documented in the literature. Herpes simplex virus type 2 may cause more infections than is presently recognized, and we suggest that some cases of acute psychosis may, like in our case, represent herpes simplex virus type 2 encephalitis.

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