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Neonatal herpes is now 'a notifiable disease', in the hope to raise awareness of risk to newborns

Health Minister Simon Harris signed the Infectious Diseases Regulations 2018 into law today.

Image: Shutterstock/YP_photographer

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Simon Harris has signed an amendment into law which has made the neonatal herpes simplex virus a notifiable disease.

Harris signed the Infectious Diseases Regulations 2018 in the presence of John and Louise Wills, who lost their infant daughter Eibhlín due to complications arising from the disease.

There are two types of herpes viruses: the first causes ‘common’ cold sores which appear on the face, generally around the lips or nostril; the second is associated with painful blisters or ulcers in, or around, the genital area.

Neonatal HSV can – as in Eibhlín’s case – be fatal. In 85% of cases, it’s transferred from the mother to the baby during delivery. Her parents had previously called for greater awareness about the “entirely preventable” disease.

The Minister said today that “the loss of an infant is something that most of us cannot even begin to come to terms with, much less turn into something positive.

That is what makes the work of both John and Louise so extraordinary and powerful.

“I hope that the inclusion of neonatal herpes simplex among the diseases that are notifiable will help, in some small way, to increase public awareness of this disease and the danger that it can represent to newborns.”

Harris encouraged expectant mothers and future fathers to read Eibhlín’s story and the sensible precautionary measures on the dedicated website set up by John and Louise. 

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