The Herpes Simplex Virus (also: HSV) is a DNA virus from the group of herpes viruses. A distinction is made between Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1) and Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV2), both of which belong to the family of ? viruses.
Infection with a Herpes Simplex Virus is one of the most common viral infections in humans and is manifested by blister-like skin lesions. The best known of these is herpes labialis, in which red, crusty and sometimes painful blisters form on the lips. The two different herpes simplex viruses differ mainly in their preferred localization.
While HSV1 is referred to as the “oral” strain, which means that it mainly manifests itself in the area of the mouth and also on the nose (herpes nose), HSV2 is also called the “genital” strain, as this subtype usually occurs in the genital area (herpes genitalis). Herpes simplex viruses are found worldwide, with humans being the only natural host for this type of virus. It is estimated that 85% to 90% of the world population is infected with the Herpes Simplex virus.
The infection therefore always occurs from person to person, either as a smear infection or through direct mucous membrane or saliva contact. A special feature of herpes viruses is that once infected, they remain in the body for the rest of one’s life. This works as follows: Once the virus has entered the human organism, it migrates from the site of infection (usually the mucous membrane) via the nerve tracts (axons) to the corresponding nerve node (ganglion), where it remains.
This is also called latent infection. From there, it can “escape” again and again and cause new symptoms. For this reason, it is not possible to say whether an infection with the Herpes Simplex virus is actually a new infection with the virus or a reactivation (also secondary infection) of the virus already in the body. However, since the initial infection is usually asymptomatic and usually occurs in children below the age of 5 years, it is usually assumed that reactivation is present in adults.