Herpes Viruses – Infection, Transmission & Diseases


Herpes diseases are diverse and make themselves felt in many different ways. The best-known herpes virus manifests itself as burning blisters, mostly in the corners of the mouth. They are uncomfortable and often return despite professional treatment. However, there is not just one herpes virus, but many different herpes viruses.

What are herpes viruses?

The stubborn herpes viruses can be divided into three groups. Alpha, beta and gamma herpesviruses cause diseases of the skin and mucous membranes, the eyes or the nervous system . They can also be responsible for tumor formation.

Eight herpes viruses are dangerous for humans. Especially in the case of initial infections, it can happen that the person affecteddiseasescannot be traced back to herpes viruses, because these make themselves felt in an atypical context. It is also possible to carry the virus without it breaking out and showing symptoms typical of the disease. Worldwide, 85 percent of the population carry the HSV-1 virus.

Herpesviruses have double-stranded DNA and are approximately 150-200 nm in diameter. They have been evolving for 200 million years, making them an ancient family of viruses. Includedinfectnot only humans, but also animals. The viruses are spread by the droplet infection .

Meaning & Function

In the primary infection of alpha herpes viruses, the epithelial cells, i.e. skin and mucous membranes, are infected first. The affected cells die while the virus spreads widely throughout the body. Now the immune system kicks in, trying to contain the viral infection.

Before this happens, however, the HSV viruses have already infected nerve cells, the ganglion cells. The immune system now manages to get most of the viruses under control and the infection heals. However, some viruses remain in the cell nucleus of the neurons, where the immune system cannot fight them. Because they never left the body, the infection can be reactivated at any time.

When the symptoms occur, a distinction is made between an initial infection and a reactivation of the herpes virus. Once the viruses reach the spinal ganglia, they remain there for the life of the host. Reactivation is often triggered by stress , fever , lack of sleep and UV light.

If the affected person carries a herpes virus without outbreaks of the disease occurring, this is called a latent infection, the virus genome is silent. Herpesviruses are responsible for a variety of diseases that can threaten human health. They are broad and can interact with other pathogens , causing serious illnesses.

Many people are already infected with the virus when they are children. While symptoms can be treated and the infection contained, it has so far been impossible to banish the herpes virus from the body. A new outbreak can then be expected at any time.

Diseases & Ailments

Herpes viruses often make themselves felt through the formation of blisters. These can appear on the lips and nose , but also on the genitals, buttocks, conjunctiva, oral mucosa or on the face and cheeks. The viruses can lead to death in very severe cases. However, since it is not in the spirit of the virus to kill its host, fatalities are relatively rare.

Viral diseases can also affect the liver and [[brain], where they trigger autoimmune processes. The HHV-1 virus, which usually appears in the form of vesicles, is one of the most harmless. In extremely rare cases, however, it can also lead to paralysis , seizures , fever and coma , which if left untreated lead to death in 70 percent of cases.

Genital herpes, HHV2, runs its course in healthy people without complications and the risk of infection is lower than that of the HI virus. HHV-6 is also associated with multiple sclerosis . It affects the T cells, altering the central nervous system in the process . If it now comes into contact with other pathogens, multiple sclerosis can form. HHV-6 is particularly commonly found in people suffering from an autoimmune connective tissue disease.

Other diseases caused by herpesviruses include chickenpox and shingles . If they occur in the form of chickenpox, some viruses migrate close to the spine , where they remain in nerve cells and are usually only reactivated in adulthood. The infection that now occurs is shingles, which is accompanied by a slight fever and reddened spots and nodules, some of which cause considerable pain .

Mononucleosis also goes back to one of the different herpes viruses, the Epstein-Barr virus . During infection, the body produces antibodies, which prevents reinfection because the body has become immune. Typical for glandular fever are swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck and neck, fever, difficulty swallowing , tiredness and difficulty concentrating. The Epstein-Barr virus is the HHV4 herpesvirus.

Herpes viruses are often only associated with blistering, but their true extent is much larger.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.