Herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) is a cause of a common viral infection of the genital area also known as genital herpes. HSV-2 is passed on through sexual contact and, although the infection can cause small blisters, the infection can potentially be passed on where the skin appears normal.
Most people with HSV-2 do not have symptoms from the infection or only very mild symptoms. The first time the blisters appear, the woman can also feel unwell with fever, aching muscles and/or headache. The blisters last about 2 to 4 weeks and then heal but then they can appear again. The first time the symptoms are normally more severe and then the following episodes are generally milder. HSV-2 can be diagnosed by sending a swab of the blister for testing. There are also blood tests which can detect HSV-2.
The virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy or during delivery. If a pregnant woman has her first episode of HSV-2 during the last trimester of pregnancy then the chances of passing on the infection to her unborn baby are over 30%, whereas if the episode is not the first one then there is a 3% chance of passing the infection on.
A pregnant woman with genital herpes can also pass on the infection to her unborn baby during vaginal delivery if she has an outbreak around the time of labour.
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Understanding Birth Injuries
- Labour and delivery