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Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 & 2

Germ type: virus

Herpes simplex viruses include type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2 infection is more likely to cause genital herpes, a sexually transmitted disease. While HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes, it is more likely to cause causes infections of the mouth and lips (sometimes referred to as "fever blisters").

Most people contract type 1 infections as a baby/child. Often there are no symptoms with genital herpes; when symptoms do occur, it is typically as one or more blisters in the genital/rectal area. HSV-2 can lead to a potentially fatal infection in a baby. There is no treatment for HSV, although antivirals can help alleviate symptoms and prevent outbreaks.

  • Spread Via: HSV-1 is usually spread through close contact with family members or friends who carry the virus. It can be transmitted by kissing, sharing eating utensils, or by sharing towels. HSV-2 is spread by sexual contact.
  • Prevention: With HSV-1, avoid kissing or sharing items like cups and lip balm when experiencing tingling, burning, itching, or tenderness. The best prevention for HSV-2 is to avoid sexual contact with an infected person, and always use a latex condom. (The virus can be spread even in the absence of symptoms.) If a pregnant woman is infected with HSV-2, her healthcare provider may choose to deliver the baby via Cesarean section.