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Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex, caused by herpes simplex viruses (HSV), is a prevalent and persistent viral infection affecting humans. The viruse belong to the Herpesviridae family and are divided into two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. They are enveloped, double-stranded DNA viruses known for their ability to establish latent infections in sensory ganglia.

HSV infections are widespread, with HSV-1 primarily associated with oral lesions (cold sores) and HSV-2 with genital herpes. Both types can cause oral and genital infections. Global prevalence varies, with millions of new cases annually.

Herpes simplex viruses initially infect epithelial cells through mucosal or skin contact. They then enter sensory nerve endings, travel along sensory neurons, and establish latency in ganglia. Reactivation from latency can lead to recurrent episodes of symptomatic or asymptomatic shedding and transmission.

Diagnosis typically involves viral culture, direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) testing, or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect viral DNA in clinical samples. Serological tests can identify antibodies against HSV but are less useful for diagnosing acute infections.