Herpes Simplex Virus

  • Uncategorized

HerpesSimplex Virus


Herpessimplex virus causes a common infection known as herpes. The viruscausing the infection can either be herpes simplex virus type 1(HSV-1) or herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Transmission of HSV-1is via mouth-mouth touch and it causes oral herpes (oral-labial ororal-facial herpes). HSV-2 is transmitted via sexual contact to causean infection in the anal or genital area. HSV-2 causes an infectionknown as genital herpes. However, people can transmit HSV-1 to thegenital area through oral to genital contact hence causing genitalherpes. The two infections are mostly asymptomatic, but they can leadto less severe symptoms, ulcers or painful blisters at the infectedareas (World Health Organization, 2017).

HSV-1infection is common, highly contagious and endemic throughout theworld. Most of the infections are lifelong and acquired duringchildhood. Research conducted in 2012, showed that about 3.7 billionpeople aged below 50 years (approximately 67% of people worldwide)had the type 1 infection. The highest occurrence rate of HSV-1 was inAfrica (87%), and the lower rate was in the America (40-50%). About140 million people aged between 15 to 49 years in 2012 had the(HSV-1) genital infection. Oral-genital HSV-1 infections mostly occurin Europe, America and Western Pacific during adulthood. However,about 417 million men and women had HSV-2 infection in 2012. HSV-2was highly prevalent in Africa (31.5%), then the Americas (14.4%).Its prevalence increased with age, but the most newly infected peoplewere adolescents. The estimation also shown that women are more proneto the HSV-2 infection than men (World Health Organization, 2017).

Clinicaldiagnosis of herpes simplex virus is by laboratory testing usingdirect test for viral isolation, detection of HSV DNA or detection ofantigen using molecular diagnostic procedures. The doctor may alsocheck the patient’s body for oral or genital sores. Most people canlive with HSV-1 infection for some time without knowing that theyhave the infection. The symptoms of oral herpes are open sores (mouthulcers) or painful blisters in or around the mouth. Infected peopleexperience itching, burning or tingling sensation around the mouthbefore the manifestation of the sores. For genital HSV-1 infection,genital or anal ulcers occur in the anal or genital area. Peopleinfected with HSV-2 manifest the following symptoms genital or analulcers, fever, swollen lymph nodes and body aches. They may alsoexperience shooting pain or mild tingling in the hips, buttocks, andlegs before the manifestation of ulcers. (World Health Organization,2017).

Famciclovir,valacyclovir, and acyclovir are antiviral medications used intreating people infected with herpes simplex virus. They don`t curethe infection but reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms.


WHOand partners are developing new strategies to prevent and controltransmission of herpes simplex virus. The additional research aims atdeveloping topical microbicides and HSV vaccines. Prevention isbetter than cure.


WorldHealth Organization (2017). HerpesSimplex Virus.Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs400/en/.