What are the symptoms of herpes infection?

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David Warren

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What are the symptoms of herpes infection?
« on: 26/09/2011 19:01:02 »
David Warren asked the Naked Scientists:

Thank you for your web site and writings. I have a question for you from you article, 'Herpes Simplex Viruses: Cold Sores and Genital Herpes".  

As you indicated, either virus can infect the same areas; but what are the differences of each? If you have it on your lip what will be the different symptoms, outcomes, etc?  For some reason this is not addressed here or anywhere well. (it is not a regional  phenomenon) How do the symptoms differ?  It would be helpful to know what one is dealing with .

Thanks for your web site, I hope to hear back,


David Warren

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« Last Edit: 26/09/2011 19:01:02 by _system »


Offline chris

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What are the symptoms of herpes infection?
« Reply #1 on: 27/09/2011 09:17:15 »
Hi Daniel.

The basic disease process occurring at either site is the same; during primary infection the virus multiplies within epithelial cells, producing inflammation and soreness. It then invades the underlying sensory nerve endings and tracks back to the nerve cell body close to the spinal cord (in the case of genital herpes) or in the trigeminal ganglion inside the skull (in the case of orofacial herpes). At these sites it establishes a lifelong latent infection characterised by the persistence of the viral DNA within the nerve cell nucleus. Periodically, and in response to poorly-defined cellular chemical wake-up calls, the DNA reactivates, leading to the production of fresh, progeny virions. These are exported back down the nerve to the periphery where they infect overlying epithelial cells to produce an infectious lesion. In the case of orolabial herpes (on the face) this is a cold sore. In the genital region this is an ulcer. Both are painful, can be unsightly and are highly infectious. But unlike primary infection (when the body first encounters the virus) they are localised and tend not to spread very far; this is because the immune response kicks in to restrict the spread.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception - Groucho Marx