Herpes-Simplex: Type 2

Herpes is a name that is used to describe several types of skin
eruptions that are characterized by formation of blisters. The term embraces
primarily two distinct disorders, herpes simplex and herpes zoster, both caused
by viruses. Together, these "herpes" viruses are estimated to cause more human
illnesses than any other group of viruses.
Two types of herpes simplex are known. The first causes cold sores or
fever blisters, which is an eruption of blisters that often occurs during the
course of or after one of a variety of diseases that eventually cause fever
(most commonly average colds, the flu, and pneumonia). The blisters usually
appear around the mouth and on the lips (herpes labialis), about the nose, face,
and ears, and in the mouth and pharynx. The causative virus has been shown to be
present in the cell bodies of the facial nerve in persons who do not have
blisters. It is this reservoir of latent virus that is the source of repeated
attacks. Except for lotions to relieve pain, itching, or inflammation, no
established treatmemt has actually been developed.
The second type of the herpes simplex virus, however, is the usual cause
of genital herpes. Herpes infections of the genital area have become
increasingly common, going along with a rise in general of many sexually
transmitted diseases. Sometimes accompanied by headache and fever, the condition
usually begins with a mild itching, followed by the development of clusters of
blisters that break and crust to form scabs that eventually dry up. The process
may last one to three weeks. In many cases new clusters of blisters appear as
others heal. When a baby is born to a woman who has active genital herpes
lesions, the infant is at high risk of contracting an infection that is often
fatal, so these women usually have their babies delivered by a cesarian section.
Primary cases of genital herpes can be treated by a drug called acyclovir, which
was approved in 1982 and in another form, that is to be taken orally rather than
used in an ointment form, in 1984. It also has been proving useful against
recurrent attacks.
The virus can also invade the central nervous system, or CNS, especially
in people who are weakened by other diseases, such as cancer, causing a severe
case of encephalitis. Early treatment of herpetic encephalitis with the drug
acyclovir can prevent death and brain damage in many cases.
How can herpes be prevented? Because the disease is transmitted most
often through bodily fluids, the simpliest protection is to simply protect
yourself. During sex, one of the partners should definitely be wearing a
condom, and that alone will greatly cut down an individual\'s chances of
acquiring the virus of herpes-simplex type-2.


1. Sol Gordon. Facts About STD:Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Ed-U-Press, New
York City. Copyright 1983

2. Ronald J. Glasser. The Body Is the Hero. Random House, New York City
Copyright 1976

Category: Social Issues