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May 1962

Primary Herpes Simplex Infection of Fingers of Medical Personnel

Author Affiliations


From Departments of Dermatology, Research Medicine, and Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

Present Address: Department of Medicine, New York University, New York (Dr. Cox) and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (Dr. Senior).

Arch Dermatol. 1962;85(5):583-589. doi:10.1001/archderm.1962.01590050013003

In 1956 we observed the first of a series of several physicians and nurses with primary herpes simplex infection of the fingers. The portals of entry were sites of trivial trauma. Our purpose is to review this unusual type of primary herpes simplex infection and to emphasize its importance as an occupational hazard in persons caring for patients. A similar, much larger experience has been reported from St. George's Hospital, London, and offers points of comparison and contrast.1

Patients  Patient 1, a 28-year-old surgical resident, accidentally cut his index finger with a clean surgical instrument on Aug. 2, 1956. Tetracycline was administered and healing slowly occurred. On the seventh day he noticed throbbing pain and localized swelling, accompanied by a tender axillary lymph node, at the site. On the 10th day because of general malaise with fever he was admitted to the hospital. Past history was negative for herpes