Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1)
One of the most popular sexually transmitted disease is the Herpes Simplex Virus. Herpes virus is classified into two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. This article is about Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 is a highly transmissible disease and infected 67% of the population in the world. HSV-1 infects parts of the body above the waist and is most commonly found around the mouth orally. The significance of this virus can be analyzed by looking at statistics, which states around 3.7 million people under the age of 50 have the HSV-1 disease as of 2016. Most people are exposed to HSV-1 by the ages of 1-5 as it can be passed from one person to another genetically.
Symptoms of Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1 (HSV-1)
Oral Herpes infection is mostly asymptomatic; symptoms of oral herpes include blisters or open sores/cold sores in or around the mouth. Cold sores start as small sores around the lips which grows into blisters after a few days. After bleeding, a crust forms, and is generally healed in one to two weeks.
Initially, infected patients will start to feel a tingling or burning sensation around their mouth, then the blisters and or open sores occur periodically thereafter. Genital herpes, which can be caused by HSV-1, can also be asymptomatic. However, the symptoms usually include blisters around the genital area.
Complications of Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1 (HSV-1)
The sores can become troublesome when they spread to the eye, which can lead to HSV keratitis – an infection on the cornea. In severe cases it can lead to scarring of the cornea or blindness which is why HSV keratitis is a major cause of blindness around the world. It can also be dangerous for babies under six months of age because their immune system is not fully developed which can cause spreading of the virus to occur much easier.
Even after a cold sore or fever blister heals completely, the virus will live in the body for the rest of the infected persons life. However, the recurrence of cold sores is highly variable; some may never get it again, while some have more than 12 outbreaks a year.
Transmission of Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1 (HSV-1)
The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1) can be detected since its appearance is prominent, and no test is needed to confirm the diagnosis. However, if the doctor is uncertain, then specific lab PCR tests or culture tests would be taken to definitively diagnose the virus. HSV culture tests require a sample from the patient, and after certain growth, specific cells can differentiate between HSV-1 and HSV-2. However, sensitivity is low in culture tests, and a more appropriate approach is sensitive PCR testing as it gives more accurate results.
The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1) is transmitted by oral contact with the virus in sores, saliva or surfaces around the mouth. The examples of oral contact can be through sharing of drinks, kissing and many other common practices. HSV-1 can also be transmitted to the genital area through oral contact with genitals, leading to genital herpes. Pregnant women with genital herpes should consult their doctor since there is a possible risk of transmitting the infection to the infant.