What is Herpes?

Herpes Simplex is a condition caused by a variety of infections due to herpes virus types 1 and 2; type 1 infections are marked most commonly by the eruption of one or more groups of vesicles on the vermilion border of the lips or at the external nares, type 2 on the other hand are marked by such lesions on the genitalia; both types often recrudescent and reappear during other febrile illness or even physiologic states such as menstruation. Closely related is the condition known as Herpes Zoster wherein caused by varicella zoster virus, characterized by an eruption of group of vesicles on one side of the body following the course of a nerve, due to inflammation of ganglia and dorsal nerve roots; the condition is self-limited but may be accompanied by or followed by severe postherpic pain.

So who gets infected with herpes?

So who gets herpes unknowingly? Almost anyone can contract the disease since the organism is spread by respiratory droplets or by direct contact with infected fluids such as saliva and sweat. Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 may be transmitted to other parts of the body through occupational hazards that exist in athletics and some professions, such as dentistry and medicine. Either type, however, can be passed from person to person during sexual activity and cause genital infections. In most cases, transmission occurs only when a person is symptomatic. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, painful vesicles, ulcers of the tongue, palate, gingival, buccal mucosa, and lips, tiny blisters on the genitalia and nearby body parts. Sometimes, however, infections are spread even no symptoms are evident. The incidence of herpes zoster increases with age occurring 8 to 10 times more frequently in the older populace aging 60 years and up.

Other persons at increased risk are clients with impaired cell mediated immunity such as HIV infection and certain malignancies, prolonged steroid use and those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. There are also triggering factors to be considered. Once the virus is in the system, it remains there for life and may flare up periodically. Various factors can cause an outbreak, including exposure to the sun, stress, emotional upsets, menstruation, fever and allergy. Most of the triggers are manageable thus it should not be too hard to prevent the flare up. Is it possible to contract the virus without sexual contact? The answer is a definite yes. Since fluids is not limited to saliva. Other forms may serve as transport for the organisms to spread out especially through microscopic cuts or open wounds in the skin and other membranes. In line with Herpes Zoster, although it is not as contagious as its predecessor – the chickenpox, the reactivated virus can be transmitted to nonimmune contacts.