During the 18 months January 1975 to June 1976, 25 cases of acute herpetic follicular conjunctivitis and keratoconjunctivitis resembling adenovirus ocular infection presented in the External Eye Disease Clinic, Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road, London. Herpes simplex virus was isolated in HEp2 cells in 22 patients, and the remaining 3 patients were identified by a minimum 4-fold rise in the level of antiherpes simplex virus antibody in their blood. No adenovirus was isolated from these patients, but complement fixation test for adenovirus was positive in 1 patient with cultural test positive for herpes simplex virus. Most patients were between 20 and 35 years old and the ratio of males to females was 12 to 13. At the initial visit the clinical features of disease were moderate to severe conjunctival papillary and follicular reasons with epithelial and subepithelial punctate keratitis but little systemic disease. In the absence of typical herpetic lesions of face, lids, or cornea the disease resembled adenovirus types 8 or 19 keratoconjunctivitis. Of these 25 patients 5 subsequently developed typical herpetic lesions of lids or cornea. In the remaining 20 cases the correct diagnosis could be made only by cultural or serological tests. Virological diagnosis provides a rational basis for antiherpetic chemotherapy, which appears to shorten the course of infection.
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