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  • Herpes simplex

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    Herpes simplex is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. Infections are categorized based on the part of the body infected. Oral herpes involves the face or mouth. It may result in small blisters in groups often called cold sores or fever blisters or may just cause a sore throat. Genital herpes, often simply known as herpes, may have minimal symptoms or form blisters that break open and result in small ulcers. These typically heal over two to four weeks. Tingling or shooting pains may occur before the blisters appear. Herpes cycles between periods of active disease followed by periods without symptoms. The first episode is often more severe and may be associated with fever, muscle pains, swollen lymph nodes and headaches. Over time, episodes of active disease decrease in frequency and severity. Other disorders caused by herpes simplex include: herpetic whitlow when it involves the fingers, herpes of the eye, herpes infection of the brain, and neonatal herpes when it affects a newborn, among others. There are two types of herpes simplex virus, type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 more commonly causes infections around the mouth while HSV-2 more commonly causes genital infections. They are transmitted by direct contact with body fluids or lesions of an infected individual. Transmission may still occur when symptoms are not present. Genital herpes is classified as a sexually transmitted infection. It may be spread to an infant during childbirth. After infection, the viruses are transported along sensory nerves to the nerve cell bodies, where they reside lifelong. Causes of recurrence may include: decreased immune function, stress, and sunlight exposure. Oral and genital herpes is usually diagnosed based on the presenting symptoms. The diagnosis may be confirmed by viral culture or detecting herpes DNA in fluid from blisters. Testing the blood for antibodies against the virus can confirm a previous infection but will be negative in new infections. The most effective method of avoiding genital infections is by avoiding vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Condom use decreases the risk. Daily antiviral medication taken by someone who has the infection can also reduce spread. There is no available vaccine and once infected, there is no cure. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) and topical lidocaine may be used to help with the symptoms. Treatments with antiviral medication such as aciclovir or valaciclovir can lessen the severity of symptomatic episodes. Worldwide rates of either HSV-1 or HSV-2 are between 60% and 95% in adults. HSV-1 is usually acquired during childhood. Rates of both increase as people age. Rates of HSV-1 are between 70% and 80% in populations of low socioeconomic status and 40% to 60% in populations of improved socioeconomic status. An estimated 536 million people worldwide (16% of the population) were infected with HSV-2 as of 2003 with greater rates among women and those in the developing world. Most people with HSV-2 do not realize that they are infected. The name is from herpēs which means "to creep", referring to spreading blisters. The name does not refer to latency.

  • Genital herpes

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    Genital herpes is an infection by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) of the genitals. Most people either have no or mild symptoms and thus do not know they are infected. When symptoms do occur, they typically include small blisters that break open to form painful ulcers. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, aching, or swollen lymph nodes, may also occur. Onset is typically around 4 days after exposure with symptoms lasting up to 4 weeks. Once infected further outbreaks may occur but are generally milder. The disease is typically spread by direct genital contact with the skin surface or secretions of someone who is infected. This may occur during sex, including anal and oral sex. Sores are not required for transmission to occur. The risk of spread between a couple is about 7.5% over a year. HSV is classified into two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. While historically mostly cause by HSV-2, genital HSV-1 has become more common in the developed world. Diagnosis may occur by testing lesions using either PCR or viral culture or blood tests for specific antibodies. Efforts to prevent infection include not having sex, using condoms, and only having sex with someone who is not infected. Once infected, there is no cure. Antiviral medications may, however, prevent outbreaks or shorten outbreaks if they occur. The long term use of antivirals may also decrease the risk of further spread. In 2015 about 846 million people (12% of the world population), had genital herpes. In the United States, more than one-in-six people have HSV-2. Women are more commonly infected than men. Rates of disease caused by HSV-2 have decreased in the United States between 1990 and 2010. Complications may rarely include aseptic meningitis, an increased risk of HIV/AIDS if exposed to HIV-positive individuals, and spread to the baby during childbirth resulting in neonatal herpes.

  • Herpes simplex research

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    Herpes simplex research includes all medical research that attempts to prevent, treat, or cure herpes, as well as fundamental research about the nature of herpes. Examples of particular herpes research include drug development, vaccines and genome editing. HSV-1 and HSV-2 are commonly thought of as oral and genital herpes respectively, but other members in the herpes family include chickenpox (varicella/zoster), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Epstein-Barr (EBV).

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