Herpes simplex is perhaps one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. But is it only transmitted through sexual intercourse? There are many facts people don’t know about herpes. For example, there are many types of herpes virus, and not all of them are responsible for those painful lesions in your lips.
In this article, we are going to explore the basics of herpes simplex and how it is different from other viruses. After identifying the virus that causes this ubiquitous sexually-transmitted disease, we will review the signs, symptoms, and treatment options.
What is herpes simplex?
Herpes simplex is a type of virus from the category of alphaherpesvirus. These viruses are composed of an envelope surrounding a double-stranded DNA molecule. Herpes simplex viruses measure around 160 nm and have a preference for epithelial tissue.
There are two types of herpes virus: type 1 or HSV-1 and type 2 or HSV-2. The main difference is that the herpes simplex virus type 1 has a preference for the epithelial tissue in the mouth. HSV-2 has a preference for the epithelial tissue in the external genitalia.
Once the herpes simplex virus reaches the target tissue, it attaches to cell receptors and gets inserted inside the cell. Moreover, the virus is recognized and introduced in sensory neurons and may remain inside nerve cells for years in a state of latency.
The epidemiology of the herpes simplex virus is widespread and distributed worldwide. The only natural reservoirs of the virus are humans, and they are the only ones responsible for the transmission.