Herpes simplex virus

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<i>Herpes simplex virus</i>
Herpes simplex virus

What is the herpes simplex virus?

The cause of a herpes disease is a viral infection. Particularly well-known representatives of the enveloped viruses are the two most common: herpes labialis (lip herpes), which belongs to the group of herpes simplex virus 1, and herpes genitalis (genital herpes), a representative of herpes simplex virus 2. After an initial infection, the viruses remain in the body for life and disease can break out again and again – especially if the immune system is weakened. Typical triggers of herpes disease are physical and emotional stress, as well as excessive sunlight.

How is the herpes simplex virus transmitted?

Humans are the only natural hosts of herpes simplex viruses. The herpes simplex virus 1 is transmitted by saliva, mucous membrane and skin contact via a smear infection. Consequently, it is very widespread. Similarly, the herpes simplex virus 2 is transmitted through mucous membrane contact, through genital secretions and during sexual intercourse.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

The most common form, herpes labialis, usually manifests itself in sore, sensitive areas with small blisters around the mouth. The vesicles fill with clear fluid and burst after a few days. They leave behind a small wound that quickly becomes encrusted and heals after 8 to 14 days. Patients often feel ill and exhausted.
Herpes genitalis also manifests itself in vesicles filled with fluid, which, however, occur in the genital area. In this disease as well, the blisters burst after 1-2 days and subsequently heal. Further symptoms can be pain in the genital area, headache and aching limbs, as well as fever. These symptoms also subside within a few days.

Significance for infections in hospitals and in the outpatient sector?

Although herpes viruses can spread very quickly, they do not play a major role in outpatient treatment. In Germany, 90 per cent of adults carry the virus already. The first infection often occurs in childhood before the age of six. Nevertheless, patients with a weakened immune system must be more cautious. In AIDS patients, for example, a herpes infection can even be life-threatening.

Survival time of pathogens on inanimate surfaces

4.5 hours to 8 weeks

Disinfectant effectiveness for prevention

The required spectrum of action against herpes simplex viruses is: limited virucidal

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