Untreated herpes during pregnancy can cause blindness in newborns-Expert cautions

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A general medical practitioner, Dr Panshak Tenmang of Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), in Plateau state has advised pregnant women with herpes to treat the disease to avoid blindness in newborns.

Tenmang, a Senior Registrar with JUTH who gave the advice said blindness or eye infection could occur through the birth canal at the point of delivery or transmitted to the child through the placenta or the umbilical cord.

According to him, the infant’s cornea (the transparent membrane that covers the front of the eyeball) can be affected or damaged.

Herpes is a contagious skin disease caused by a virus which gives rise to watery blisters and can be transmitted sexually.

Tenmang urged pregnant women to ensure they go for their routine antenatal as it could be detected and treated to prevent the unborn child from being born with eye infection or a damaged cornea.

He said that untreated or poorly treated upper respiratory tract infection and dental infection in a child could also lead to orbital cellulitis, which could lead to blindness.

Tenmang explained that Orbital cellulitis is most commonly caused by an acute spread of infection in the eye socket from either the adjacent sinus or blood.

He said that besides blindness, it could also lead to decreased vision, loss of sensorium or death.

Tenmang cautioned parents against self-medication, while urging them to see a paediatrician and adhere to the stipulated drug dosage to prevent diseases.

Bilkisu Pai