Mortality from Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Infection in Australian Children, 1999-2011 Using National Datasets
Background: This study examines national childhood HSV mortality data in Australia from 1999-2011. This
information is important to better understand the disease burden of HSV in early life and to formulate public health interventions.
Methods: Retrospective analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) national mortality data from 1999-
2011 in children aged <15 years who died with specific ICD-10 codes for HSV infection listed as an underlying or contributing
cause. Results: Twenty nine HSV-associated deaths in children aged <15 years from 1999-2011 were identified
(0.05 per 100,000 children; 95% CI 0.04-0.06), 16 in the first month of life (0.45 per 100,000 live births; 95% CI 0.23-
0.67). Among those, 20 were males and 9 were females (p=0.04). The majority of deaths (69%) occurred in infants aged
<12 months and most in infants aged <1 month (55%). HSV-associated death in infants aged < 1 month of age accounted
for 0.15% of all neonatal deaths for 1999-2011 in Australia. A downward trend in HSV-associated neonatal mortality was
observed between 1999 and 2011 (p=0.52). During the study period, mortality from HSV infections in Australian children
resulted in an estimated 2,275 age-adjusted years of potential life lost. Conclusions: This data confirms reported findings
from active surveillance of a downward trend in mortality rate from HSV infection in infants aged < 1 month in Australia
over this period. Ongoing surveillance is required to confirm this observation.
Keywords: Children, Herpes simplex virus (HSV), mortality, neonate.
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