herpes simplex

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Related to herpes simplex: herpes simplex 1, herpes simplex 2, herpes zoster, Cold sores

herpes simplex

(hûr`pēz), an acute viral infection of the skin characterized by one or more painful, itching blisters filled with clear fluid. It is caused by either of two herpes simplex viruses: Type 1, herpes labialis, which generally involves the lip (producing what are commonly known as cold sores) or the mouth area (producing canker sores), but can involve the genital area or, in the case of herpes gladiatorum, parts of the body that have been exposed to the virus through skin-to-skin contact in sports; and Type 2, herpes genitalis, which involves the genitals, but may involve the mouth. It is believed that invasion of Type 1 herpes occurs in most persons during infancy and childhood, either as a systemic or severe local infection. Type 2 herpes, or genital herpes, is a sexually transmitted diseasesexually transmitted disease
(STD) or venereal disease,
term for infections acquired mainly through sexual contact. Five diseases were traditionally known as venereal diseases: gonorrhea, syphilis, and the less common granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, and
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 that became epidemic in the United States in the late 1960s. Newborns exposed to active herpes in the mother's birth canal can contract a serious form of the disease. The herpes simplex virus can be spread by an infected but asymptomatic person.

Outbreaks of both types of herpes simplex alternate with periods when the virus lies dormant in the nerve cells. The reappearance of blisters may be triggered by such factors as fever, infectious diseases, exposure to sunlight, menstruation, or pregnancy. The blisters usually last from 10 to 14 days. Treatment for recurrent herpes includes elimination of the precipitating conditions, local antibiotic treatment to prevent bacterial infection, and treatment with antiviral drugsantiviral drug,
any of several drugs used to treat viral infections. The drugs act by interfering with a virus's ability to enter a host cell and replicate itself with the host cell's DNA.
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 such as acyclovir, although some resistant strains (see drug resistancedrug resistance,
condition in which infecting bacteria can resist the destructive effects of drugs such as antibiotics and sulfa drugs. Drug resistance has become a serious public health problem, since many disease-causing bacteria are no longer susceptible to previously
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) have developed. There is no cure. The herpes simplex virus is also the cause of a form of viral encephalitisencephalitis
, general term used to describe a diffuse inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, usually of viral origin, often transmitted by mosquitoes, in contrast to a bacterial infection of the meninges (membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord), known as meningitis.
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See also herpes zosterherpes zoster,
infection of a ganglion (nerve center) with severe pain and a blisterlike eruption in the area of the nerve distribution, a condition called shingles. The causative organism is varicella zoster, a common, filtrable virus that is also known to cause chicken pox.
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Herpes Simplex


an infectious disease caused by a virus and manifested by lesions of the skin, mucous membranes, eyes, and central nervous system. Most often the skin is affected near its junction with the mucous membranes (lips, eyelids, and genitalia). Herpes simplex begins with a sensation of irritation or burning pain in the affected region. Then reddish spots appear, which are quickly transformed into a group of blisters that soon rupture and are covered with scabs. When there is repeated eruption of blisters, they usually appear in the same place. Chills, fever, and muscle pains may accompany herpes simplex. Recovery usually takes seven to 12 days. Treatment includes antibiotics, smallpox revaccination, and autohemotherapy. Preventive measures include conditioning the body against the infection and avoiding overfatigue and contact with infected persons.


Zaraznye bolezni cheloveka. Edited by V. M. Zhdanov. Moscow, 1955.


herpes simplex

[¦hər‚pēz ′sim‚pleks]
An acute vesicular eruption of the skin or mucous membranes caused by a virus, commonly seen as cold sores or fever blisters.

herpes simplex

an acute viral disease characterized by formation of clusters of watery blisters, esp on the margins of the lips and nostrils or on the genitals. It can be sexually transmitted and may recur fitfully
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