What is herpes simplex virus (HSV)?

Updated: Feb 27, 2019
  • Author: J Michael Klatte, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Answer

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a double-stranded, enveloped, DNA virus. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) belong to the family Herpesviridae, subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae. Following initial infection, the herpes viruses become latent in the sensory neural ganglia (the trigeminal and/or sacral ganglion in HSV-1 infection [17] and usually the sacral ganglion in HSV-2 infection [18] ). Herpes simplex virus infections are ubiquitous and cause a wide range of infections from isolated mucocutaneous lesions to disseminated infection in all age groups. Neonatal herpes simplex virus disease is associated with high morbidity and mortality. [19] Herpes simplex virus infections are among the few non-HIV viral infections amenable to antiviral therapy. Available antiviral chemotherapy can be used to treat infection, shorten the clinical course, and, in certain circumstances, prevent infection with herpes simplex virus.


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