Herpes simplex virus belongs to a group of herpes viruses known as Herpesviridae, which include human herpes virus 8 that causes Kaposi’s sarcoma, herpes zoster that causes chicken pox and shingles, and cytomegalovirus.
Herpes has two types. The first one is HSV1, which is usually associated on the face, lip, mouth infections and is the cause of fever blisters and cold sores. The second one is HSV2, usually associated with sex organ infections. This is the cause of genital herpes. Both of these types can cause extremely painful infections to humans. HSV1 and HSV2 stay dormant within the nerves that give sensation to the skin. The virus buds off from the nerve and infection the skin cells, generating painful pale blisters that are highly infectious.
Recurrences of HSV1 infection can develop on any area of the body but are most frequent on the facial area, especially around the lips. Mouth infection is common though the appearance maybe a source of concern, it is not risky to your overall health.
Herpes simplex virus is the most common virus in humans, triggering infections on the skin and mucous membranes but is also an uncommon cause of more severe infections in other body parts. Virus infections from herpes can cause extensive diseases to people with low immune system like cancer or HIV patients.
Just like all members of the virus family, herpes simplex virus stays in the human body forever. This virus only affects humans and there seems to be no cure yet. It is estimated that around half a million of new cases happen each year and in the US alone, one out of five of the overall adolescent and adult population are carrying herpes.
New born babies can have herpes simplex virus from their mother during birth. If a baby is infected with herpes virus, the following signs and symptoms may happen during the first month: low platelet count (platelets are blood elements that make it clot), bruising, skin sores, yellowish skin, convulsions, fever, breathing problems, irritability. In severe cases, infants infected with herpes may develop eye problems, small size of brain, seizures, mental retardation or even die.
Herpes simplex virus rarely spreads to the baby through the mother’s placenta but to lessen the risk of infecting babies, a caesarean delivery is recommended who have an active herpes infection at the time of delivery. One interesting fact regarding herpes is at least one third of children are infection with herpes by the end of their childhood.