Overview of Herpesvirus Infection (genital)
Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) also known as human herpes virus 1 and 2 (HHV-1 and HHV-2) cause infections in humans. Herpesvirus are enveloped viruses with large double stranded DNA enclosed in capsid and belong to family Herpesviridae. Both virus types are ubiquitous in nature. HSV-1 cause cold sores on lips whereas HSV-2 is responsible for causing genital herpes. Infections occur as watery blisters on skin or mucous membranes of lips, nose, mouth or genitals. Infection can also effect other parts such as brain and GI tract and is prevalent in newborns and immunosuppressed patients. Both of these diseases are very contagious and can spread by direct contact with sores.
Causes and Risk Factors of Herpesvirus Infection (genital)
HSV-1 is transmitted by contact with an infected skin while HSV-2 is contracted through sexual contact during reactivations of the virus. HSV remains dormant (latent) in body after primary infection and reactivates periodically. Virus remains latent in ganglia (collection of nerve cells) near spinal cord that supply nerve fibers to infected area. Upon reactivation virus replicate and travel through nerve fibers to skin resulting in blister formation on same area of skin as before. Sometimes virus can be present on skin or mucosa even in absence of blisters. HSV-2 is periodically shed in the human genital tract, most often asymptomatically, and most sexual transmissions occur during asymptomatic shedding. Reactivation of oral or genital HSV can be triggered by dental procedure, fever, emotional stress menstruation and suppressed immune system. Both viruses may also be transmitted vertically during childbirth, although the real risk is very low.
Signs and Symptoms of Herpesvirus Infection (genital)
Symptoms of HSV infection include watery blisters on skin of lips, fingertips and genitals and mucous membrane of eyes, mouth, vagina and cervix. Lesions heal with a scab characteristic of herpetic disease. Oral blisters are usually accompanied by fever, headache and body aches. These sore lasts for 10-14 days and are often severe, causing difficulty in eating and drinking. The recurrence of mouth sores occurs in the form of single sore on the rim of lip and one or cluster of sores on gums or palate. Genital infection occurs in the form of painful blisters in the genital or anal area. Blisters may also develop in vagina or on cervix. Difficulty urinating, burning during urination and constipation may also accompany.