Disseminated Neonatal Herpetic Infection Simulating Abusive Anal Trauma


  • Michael Panella M.D., J.D

    1. Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, University of Missouri, 1 Hospital Drive, M263 Medical Science Building, Columbia, MO 65212.
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Michael J. Panella, M.D., J.D.
Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences
The University of Missouri
1 Hospital Drive
M263 Medical Science Building
Columbia, MO 65212
E-mail: mjpanella2233@yahoo.com


Abstract:  Potential simulators of premortem trauma present problems of misinterpretation and possible false accusations of caregivers. A case of unsuspected neonatal herpes is reported with associated perianal ecchymosis that raises the possibility of sexual abuse. The decedent was an 8-day-old newborn infant who was born by Cesarean section and treated for 5 days postdelivery for sepsis. The newborn infant was discharged home but returned 2 days later with probable sepsis and new onset of perianal hemorrhage. She died 1 day later with autopsy, revealing neonatal disseminated herpetic infection with early anal involvement consisting of microscopic ulcerations with leukocytoclastic-like vasculitis and rare viral cytopathic changes. These histological changes produced grossly appearing anal ecchymosis with an absence of typical herpetic vesiculopapular lesions, which simulated abusive trauma. This case highlights the importance of considering occult neonatal herpes with associated perianal ecchymosis when presented with possible abusive anal trauma in a newborn infant.