Thursday, March 26, 2015

Herpes Simplex Cluster in Mexico?

An indigenous child from Mexico's Bocoyna region putatively infected with HSV [Source: El Heraldo de Chihuahua]

El Heraldo de Chihuahua, a local Mexican news source, reported a possible herpes simplex virus (HSV) cluster in 20 children in the Bocoyna region in Mexico. These children are suffering from festering sores and scabs all over their faces. They live in a small, isolated village in the mountains where it is very difficult to obtain medical assistance. Although their families have tried to take them to the hospital, doctors refused to see them because they had no money. Currently, the infected children cannot eat or sleep because their bodies are covered in painful lesions. 

At this time, ProMed is unsure how El Heraldo determined that this disease cluster was caused by HSV, given that the children have yet to receive medical care. It would be interesting if this were caused by HSV though, given that HSV usually results in more limited lesions on either the mouth (HSV-1) or genital region (HSV-2). More serious or systemic HSV infections may be a sign of an opportunistic infection in cases of immunodeficiency. Herpes gladiatorum, one of the most infectious forms of HSV that is transmitted by skin to skin contact, may also be another culprit. So far, without any definitive tests, the differential diagnosis also includes impetigo (Staphylococcus aureus or group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus), cutaneous leishmaniasis (leishmania parasites) and ringworm (skin fungus). 

Here’s hoping that these children get the medical they need and that this outbreak is investigated and controlled. 


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