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TYPE 1 (HSV-1) and
TYPE 2 (HSV-2)

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Herpes SimplexHerpes simplex is a viral infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), one of the herpesviridae. There are two types of Herpes Simplex Virus: HSV Type 1 and HSV Type 2. The ways in which herpes infections manifest themselves vary tremendously among individuals. Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2. It is widespread, affecting an estimated 1 in 4 females and 1 in 5 males in the United States. Although certain therapies can prevent outbreaks or reduce the risk of transmission to partners, no cure is yet available.
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) is usually associated with infections of the lips, mouth, and face. It is the most common Herpes Simplex Virus and is usually acquired in childhood. HSV-1 often causes lesions inside the mouth, such as cold sores (fever blisters), and is transmitted by contact with infected saliva. By adulthood up to 90 percent of individuals will have antibodies to HSV-1. The first infection with HSV-1 may be mild and unapparent. Reactivation or latent infection is precipitated by various forms of stress, trauma, fever, physiologic changes or intercurrent disease. HSV-1 is a common cause of meningoencephalitis (infection of the lining of the brain and the brain itself). Herpes simplex encephalitis is a very serious disorder, thought to be caused by the retrograde transmission of the virus from a peripheral site to the central nervous system along a nerve axon.

  • Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2) is sexually transmitted. Symptoms include genital ulcers or sores. In addition to oral and genital lesions, the virus can also lead to complications such as meningoencephalitis or cause infection of the eye -- in particular the conjunctiva and cornea. However, some people have HSV-2, but do not display symptoms. Up to 30 percent of U.S. adults have antibodies against HSV-2. Cross-infection of type 1 and 2 viruses may occur from oral-genital contact.

Herpes infections, whether initial or recurring, are usually first felt as a tingling and/or itching sensation in the affected area. These initial symptoms are usually followed, depending on severity of the infection, by the emergence of a raised or swollen area on the skin. This swollen area then becomes painful in general, but acutely sore when touched, stretched or moved. Eventually this area will erupt and emit a virus laden clear fluid for several days before scabs form. Once scabbed over the lesion will usually heal completely in seven to ten days. In immuno-compromised individuals this cycle can be significantly extended.


Control of Communicable Diseases Manual 17th Edition

CDC: Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Genital Herpes

US Dept. of Health & Human Services, NIAID fact sheet, Genital Herpes

Herpes Simplex
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




Mode of Transmission
Herpes is contracted through direct skin contact (not necessarily in the genital area) with an infected person, and less frequently by indirect contact (by sharing lip balm or a virus infested towel). The virus travels through tiny breaks in the skin, or through abrasions in the mucous membranes of the mouth and genital areas. Normal intact skin and mucous membranes are an effective barrier against the virus. However, in the case of mucous membranes, even microscopic abrasions are sufficient to expose the nerve endings into which the virus splices itself. This is why most herpes transmissions happens in mucous membranes, or in areas of the body where mucous membranes and normal skin merge (corners of the mouth). Symptoms may not appear for up to a month or more after infection. Transmission was originally thought to be most common during active outbreak. However, in the early 1980’s, it was found that the virus can be shed from the skin in the absence of symptoms.

Transmission of HSV-2 is usually by sexual contact. Transmission to the neonate usually occurs via the infected birth canal and less commonly occurs in utero or postpartum.

Incubation Period:

From 2-12 days.

There is no cure for genital herpes. Healthcare providers might prescribe an antiviral medicine to treat symptoms and to help prevent future outbreaks. This can decrease the risk of passing herpes to sexual partners. Medicines to treat genital herpes are
  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Methods of Control:

-Health education and personal hygiene to minimize the transfer of infectious material.

-Wear gloves when in direct contact with potentially infectious lesions.

-Disinfect environmental surfaces that may have become contaminated with an EPA approved disinfectant.

-Several different vaccines are in various stages of development. These include vaccines made from proteins on the HSV cell surface, peptides or chains of amino acids, and the DNA of the virus itself. NIAID and GlaxoSmithKline are supporting a large clinical trial in women of an experimental vaccine that may help prevent transmission of genital herpes. The trial is being conducted at more than 35 sites nationwide. For more information, click here Herpevac Trial for Women or go to

-Topical microbicides, preparations containing microbe-killing compounds, are also in various stages of development and testing. These include gels, creams, or lotions that a woman could insert into the vagina prior to intercourse to prevent infection.

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