What precautions are required for health care workers when treating patients with herpes encephalitis?
Contact precautions. Use contact precautions, as herpes simplex is contagious mainly by contact with an infected person's sores. A never-infected person, without protective antibodies, could catch herpes from a patient with herpes encephalitis, but he would likely just get a typical herpes infection and future recurrences of sores. It is very unlikely that he would get encephalitis, because encephalitis is quite rare.
None. Herpes encephalitis is caused by herpes simplex virus which is the virus that causes cold sores. Once infected with this virus the virus will live forever in one of the nerves to the face. The virus at times reactivates and causes a cold sore. Rarely the virus reactivates and migrates to the brain causing encephalitis. Most people in the US are already infected with this virus (57%).
Keep risk low. Once a person has herpes labialis they are susceptible to herpes encephalitis should their immune system fail. Hiv infection compromises the immune system. Most people will not get this devastating condition.