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O herpes It is a recurrent viral disease, usually benign, caused by Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2, which mainly affects the mucosa of the mouth or genital region, but can cause severe neurological complications.

It brings many discomforts, has no cure, and can be deadly, but some remedies can be used to lessen the symptoms.

They are very common. In some especially poor countries, 90% of people have antibodies to HSV1, even though they may not have had symptoms. One fifth of adults will have genital herpes, including Europe and the US.


Oral herpes, particularly if caused by HSV1, is a disease primarily of childhood, transmitted by direct contact and saliva. Genital herpes is transmitted sexually.

Dentists and other healthcare professionals dealing with oral fluids are at risk for painful finger infection due to their contact with patients.


After infection of the mucosa, the virus multiplies producing the characteristic painful rashes (inflammatory red spots) and vesicles (blisters) (caused perhaps more by the immune system's necessary destructive response to the invasion).

The vesicles contain very virion-rich fluid and their rupture near another person's mucosa is a form of transmission (however, there are also viruses in the vaginal and penile secretions or saliva). They disappear and reappear without leaving any marks or scars. It is possible that both viruses and both forms coexist in one individual.

Secondary acute episodes are always less severe than the initial ones (due to memory lymphocytes), however the disease remains for life, even though the episodes become less frequent. Many infections and recurrences are asymptomatic.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In most cases, simple clinical examination allows the doctor to diagnose herpes. In more complex or less obvious cases, the virus is collected from pustules and grown in live animal cell media. Microscopic observation of these cultures reveals typical viral inclusions in cells. In encephalitis, biopsy samples may be required.

There is no vaccine or definitive treatment, although some especially acycloguanosine drugs such as acyclovir may reduce symptoms and the danger of complications such as encephalitis. What appears are blisters in the vagina and penis.

Transmission can be reduced by avoiding direct contact with others or objects used by others (cups, wind instrument nozzles) when cold sores are active, and sexual abstinence when the region affected by genital herpes is not looking healthy normally.