Herpes Simplex

When most people think about the Herpes Simplex Virus, most believe that is categorized only as a sexually transmitted disease that affects areas of the male and female genitalia. In that case it would be a sexually transmitted disease however, Herpes Simplex Virus can be transmitted in several ways and affect millions of people all around the world. Herpes is a disease caused by the Herpes Simplex Viruses types 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2). According to the location of the herpes, the virus can be categorized as oral herpes, genital herpes, ocular herpes, and so on.

Since herpes is an incurable virus, infected individuals will endure the annoying and contagious virus for the rest of their life with recurring “outbreaks”. The virus is incurable because during the latent phase of the disease, the virus hides itself and becomes invisible to the immune system. The immune system was designed to fight off unfamiliar pathogens; but cannot do its job if a pathogen has hidden itself. The only time the immune system fights off the herpes virus is when an outbreak occurs.

At this time the virus infects the epithelial cells causing blisters or sores on the a person’s body and no longer hides itself from the immune system. At this time, the immune system can then recognize that there is an unfamiliar pathogen present and fight it. But before the first outbreak occurs, the virus has already become an incurable virus by being transported along axons to the neuron itself. It was in 1893 that genital herpes was recognized as a transmitted disease spread from one person to another.

It wasn’t until 1982 that HSV was made aware to the public that it has become a serious problem. HSV was thought to be a manifestation of the “free love” era or sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies. When in fact, the first documentation of the virus was in 2500BC. Ancient Greeks coined the phrase ‘herpes’. Hippocrates used that term to describe lesions that appeared to creep or crawl.

In 1736 French prostitutes were under surveillance and linked with the spread of the virus. Scholars even believe that the transmission of herpes was even mentioned in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet by writing, “O’er ladies lips, who straight on kisses dream which off the angry Mab with blisters plagues, because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are”. Since there are several types of herpes infections, it can be spread to an uninfected person in several ways so precautions must not be taken lightly. Herpes Labialis, also known as cold sores, spread when the virus comes in contact with oral mucosa. Herpes Genitalis is spread by oral and sexual intercourse.

Herpetic Whitlow affects the fingers, thumbs, toes, or nail cuticles. Herpes Gladiatorum affects the face, ears, neck and skin, usually acquired by contact sports such as wrestling, soccer, and other contact sports. Herpetic Keratitis is an infection on the cornea of the eye. Herpesviral Encephalitis affects the brain; caused by the transmission of the virus from a peripheral site on the face, along a nerve axon, to the brain. Neonatal herpes infections are caused by an infected mother transmitting the virus to her unborn child.

Chicken Pox is also a form of herpes virus as well as Shingles. Studies show that the herpes virus may lead to other illnesses such as Bell’s Palsy, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV. There are many infected persons that do not encounter symptoms of the virus or only encounter minimal signs of the virus. Once a person has become infected with herpes, they will encounter different stages of the infection. The first stage is the primary stage. The primary stage usually begins 2-8 days after being infected. The infection causes one to several small painful blisters.

The blisters will appear a red color and filled with a clear or cloudy colored fluid. The blisters may often break open and become open sores. Many endure flu-like symptoms while many others may not have any symptoms and may not know they have been infected.. In the latent stage, in infected person shows no signs or symptoms. No flu-like symptoms, no blisters or sores. The final stage is the shedding stage. Although an infected person may not encounter signs or symptoms, it is the most crucial phase of the virus because this is the time in which the virus multiplies in the nerves.

It finds it’s way into body fluids like saliva, vaginal fluids and semen. Herpes Simplex can easily be diagnosed in a variety of tests. A health care professional can diagnose herpes during an outbreak by visually inspecting the infected area or blisters. Most health care professionals will take a sample from the blisters and test it in a laboratory. If an outbreak is not present, a blood test would be taken to detect HSV-1 or HSV-2 antibodies. Most tests are usually more effective after 12-16 weeks of being exposed to the virus.

Results from any test can be determined anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 weeks. Taking an FDA approved herpes test is important for a proper and more accurate diagnosis. Most FDA approved tests have an accuracy rate of 93-100%. Herpes is a non-discriminative virus and affects millions of people. In the U. S. alone, approximately one out of every four to five adults, affecting nearly 50 million Americans, have the herpes virus. Half of a million new cases are reported each year to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

In 2003, reports from around the world indicated that approximately 536 million people are infected with the virus, with approximately 24 million new cases reported annually. The number of people being infected by the virus has decreased over the past several years, however, there are still approximately half of a million new cases reported each year in the U. S. and Canada since October 2008. One thing that Americans infected by the virus have in common with other countries is that the virus tends to be more active in the females.

African American females and immigrants are more susceptible to herpes, although active symptoms are more likely in Caucasian women. Preventing the spread of herpes can be as easy as following a few simple precautions. It is as equally important for non-infected people to follow precautionary methods as infected people. Because the virus is so contagious, it is important not to share personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes, deodorant, and towels. Hand washing is as important as not have casual sex, multiple sexual partners and practicing safe sex techniques.

Infected people can take further precautionary methods by covering affected areas, like fingers, with band-aids and wearing gloves, communicating with sexual partners and make them aware of your condition and utilize latex condoms, avoiding popping blisters , taking an FDA approved oral antiviral medication. Oral medications include Acyclovir (Valtrex), Valcylovir, and Famciclovir. Topical ointments may be utilized as well like Abreva which is commonly used for “cold sores”. There is no cure for the Herpes Simplex Virus so any medication taken will not cure an individual from the virus.

Medications will only aid in the speedy recovery of an active outbreak and minimize the number of outbreaks. There is hope for non-infected individuals to prevent acquiring the virus. Vaccines are currently in it’s third stage of testing. Practicing safe sex techniques should always be the number one method of preventing the spread of the herpes virus but knowledge of the virus is just as important.

Citations Dickerson FB, Boronow JJ, Stallings C, et al (March 2004). “Infection with herpes simplex virus type 1 is associated with cognitive deficits in bipolar disorder”.

Biol. Psychiatry 55 (6): 588-93. Gupta R, Warren T, Wald A (December 2007). “Genital herpes”. Lancet 370 (9605): 2127-37. http://linkinghub. elsevier. com/retrieve/pii… Fleming, Thomas R. (2008). “Linear erosive Herpes Simplex Virus infection in immunocompromised patients: the “Knife-Cut Sign” ”. Clin Infect Dis 47: 1440-1441 Howard M, Sellers JW, Jang D, et al (January 2003). “Regional distribution of antibodies to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2 in men and women in Ontario, Canada”. J Clin Microbial. 41 (1): http://jcm. asm. org/cgi/pmidlookup? …

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