Are there rare cases where herpes can infect other organs and cause more dangerous, or even life threatening infections?

Herpes simplex virus can very rarely cause infections in other parts of the body, such as the brain (encephalitis) and lungs (pneumonia). In people with normal immune systems, this is extremely rare. For example: the incidence of herpes simplex encephalitis is estimated to be 2 people per million per year.

Infants born to mothers with active genital herpes infections are a special case. These infants can get herpes infections that affect their skin, eyes, mouth, central nervous system (CNS), and other organs with devastating consequences. This is why women often take suppressive therapy starting at 36 weeks of pregnancy to prevent these problems. If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, talk to your obstetrician about the best approach for you.

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