Complement-fixing and neutralising antibodies to herpes-simplex virus usually appear in the CSF of patients with herpetic encephalitis during the second third week of illness and may be of diagnostic value. The ratio of serum to CSF antibody titres is, as a rule, in the range of 1:1 to 16:1. The antibodies may persist in the CSF for 6 to 18 months after recovery from the acute stage of the disease; their detection, even in the absence of an obvious history of acute encephalitis, probably implies infection of the central nervous system within the past 18 months. However, we cannot yet be certain that absence of these antibodies from the CSF excludes the diagnosis in patients with the clinical picture of herpes-simplex-virus encephalitis and a rising titre of specific anti- bodies in the serum. The titres are probably not affected by the systemic use of specific anti-herpetic drugs.

We wish to thank our neurological colleagues at Oxford and Portsmouth for their collaboration in collecting numerous specimens from their patients, as well as Dr J. Wilson and Professor A. Dudgeon, Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, and Drs A. B. Donnison and E. Sayle, Ascot, for specimens from patient 10 and Mr G. P. Duffy, FRCS, for specimens from patient 11


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