The acquisition of herpes simplex virus (HSV) in utero comprises a minority of neonatal herpes infections. Prenatal diagnosis is rare. We describe a midtrimester diagnosis of fetal HSV-2 infection. Ultrasound at 20 weeks for elevated maternal serum α-fetoprotein (MSAFP) showed lagging fetal growth, echogenic bowel, echogenic myocardium, and liver with a mottled pattern of echogenicity. Amniocentesis demonstrated normal karyotype, elevated AFP and positive acetylcholinesterase. Culture isolated HSV-2 with an aberrant growth pattern. Maternal serology was positive for HSV-2. Quantitative DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed 59 million copies/ml. Fetal autopsy demonstrated widespread tissue necrosis but only sparse HSV-2 inclusions. Fetal HSV-2 infection can be suspected when an elevated MSAFP accompanies ultrasound findings suggesting perinatal infection. Maternal HSV serology, amniotic fluid culture and quantitative PCR are recommended for diagnostic certainty and counseling.
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