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Biology LibreTexts Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 (HHV 1 and 2)

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    "Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1: Capsid" by National Institutes of Health (NIH) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


    • Genetic material: double-stranded linear DNA
    • Virion structure: Enveloped, icosahedral capsid


    • DNA enters host nucleus and circularizes
      • Remains separate from host genome as episome
    • After initial infection, viral DNA remains in ganglia near initial infection site
      • Replication of virus (and therefore disease) can recur, usually due to stress, immune suppression, other disease, or exposure to factors which can cause DNA damage, such as sunlight (UV)


    • Transmitted through close contact with infected individual, usually active lesions
      • HSV-2 (HHV-2) can be shed even when there are no active lesions


    • Anyone is susceptible to infection, but HSV-2 (HHV-2) is typically sexually transmitted

    Clinical Disease

    • Oral herpes
      • also called cold sores or fever blisters
        • recurrence of lesions is triggered by illness/stress
      • painful, itchy lesions on the lips
      • usually caused by HSV-1 (HHV-1)
      • virus goes latent in trigeminal and brachial ganglia
    • Genital herpes
      • painful, itchy lesions in/on genitalia
      • usually caused bby HSV-2 (HHV-2)
      • virus goes latent in sacral ganglia
    • Neonatal herpes
      • infection of infant during birth
      • 30% fatal if cutaneous or oral infection, 80% if CNS infection
      • to prevent, mother should be tested for HSV and give birth by Caesarean section if infected
    • Whitlow
      • infection of wound or cut
      • most at risk are healthcare workers who may come in contact with lesions or young children who suck their thumb

    Treatment and Prevention

    • Antivirals such as acyclovir, valacyclovir or other nucleoside analogs
    • Prevention of contact with active lesions (gloves, condoms)
    • Caesarean delivery for infected women
    • Abstinence/monogamy Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 (HHV 1 and 2) is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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