What is the clinical presentation of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection?

Updated: Feb 27, 2019
  • Author: J Michael Klatte, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes myriad clinical presentations. The course depends on the age of the patient, the immune status of the host, the site of infection, the individual's previous immunity to autologous or heterologous viruses, and the antigenic type of the virus. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) classically causes infection above the waist and the infections are localized to the mouth and oropharynx, whereas herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) usually causes genital infections and can also cause CNS or disseminated disease in neonates. [47]

Compared with latent infection, primary infection with either virus is frequently associated with systemic signs, increased severity of symptoms, and increased rates of complications. Upon reactivation, both viruses establish latent infections in sensory neurons and can cause recurrent disease at or near the entry site into the body.

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