Herpes Simplex (HSV)
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Herpes simplex is a virus that causes the herpes infection. It can affect several body parts including the lips, which results in the common cold sore. The virus can also infect the inside of the mouth, the genital area of men and women (genital herpes), and the eyes (herpes simplex keratitis). Herpes simplex that affects the mouth and eyes is generally called type 1 or HSV-1, while herpes simplex affecting the genitals is type 2 or HSV-2. The types are for the most part similar to one another, though they can be distinguished in a blood test. There is no cure for herpes infection, but treatment can help control the virus.
Herpes is a group of viruses that infect humans. Types of herpes viruses include herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HHV-1 and HHV-2 respectively), human herpesvirus type 3 (varicella-zoster virus), human herpesvirus type 4 (including Epstein-Barr virus and lymphocryptovirus), human herpesvirus type 5 (cytomegalovirus), human herpesviruse type 6 (HHV-6, including human B-cell lymphotrophic virus and roseolovirus), human herpesvirus type 7 (HHV-7), and human herpesvirus type 8 (rhadinovirus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated virus).
Herpes is a contagious infection that spreads when the carrier is producing and releasing ("shedding") virus. Herpes viruses are transmitted from human to human in different ways. With HSV-1, contact and infection can occur directly from another human (such as mouth-to-mouth, hand-to-mouth contact) or through the use of everyday objects that have come in contact with the virus, including razors, towels, dishes, and glasses. Genital herpes or HSV-2 can only be contracted through direct sexual contact (genital-to-genital, mouth-to-genital, or hand-to-genital; not kissing) with an infected partner. Occasionally, oral-genital contact can spread oral herpes to the genitals (and vice versa). Individuals with active herpes lesions on or around their mouths or on their genitals should avoid oral sex. The varicella-zoster (chickenpox) virus spreads through the humidity in the air when inhaled and mainly spreads during the incubation period, which is just before an outbreak of symptoms.
After an initial or primary infection, herpes viruses establish a period called latency, during which the virus is present in the cell bodies of nerves that innervate (attach) to the area of the original viral outbreak (such as genitals, mouth, and lips). At some point this latency ends, and the virus becomes active again. While active, the virus begins to multiply (called shedding), and becomes transmittable again. This shedding may or may not be accompanied by symptoms. During reactivation, virus is produced in the nerve cell and transported outwardly via the nerve to the skin. The ability of herpes virus to become latent and reactive explains the chronic (long-term), recurring nature of a herpes infection.
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Herpes simplex is a virus that is responsible for cold sores and genital herpes. There are two types of herpes simplex viruses: type 1 (HSV-1) is most often responsible for cold sores (also referred to as fever blisters), while type 2 (HSV-2) is responsible for nearly 90 percent of cases of genital herpes (the remaining 10 percent are caused by HSV-1).
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Herpes simplex is a virus that infects the skin, mucous membranes and nerves.
There are two major types of herpes simplex virus (HSV). Type I is the most common and primarily infects the face, causing the familiar “cold sore” or “fever blister.” Type II is the sexually transmitted form of herpes, infecting the genitals. While both can spread to the eye and cause infection, Type I is by far the most frequent type associated with herpes simplex eye disease.
Type I herpes is very contagious and commonly is transmitted by skin contact with someone who has the virus. Almost everyone — about 90 percent of the population — is exposed to Type I herpes, usually during childhood.
After the original infection, the virus lies in a quiet or dormant period, living in nerve cells of the skin or eye. Occasionally, the virus can reactivate and cause new cold sores or blisters to form. Reactivation can be triggered by any number of reasons, including:
Infection can be transferred to the eye by touching an active lesion (a cold sore or blister) and then your eye.