Who Is At Risk For Herpes Simplex 1?
HSV-1 (oral herpes) is extremely common in the United States as well as globally. It’s estimated that two thirds of the world population under the age of fifty (67% according to the World Health Organization) are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1.
The Herpes simplex virus, the virus which causes HSV-1 and HSV-2, is spread by skin to skin contact. Though HSV-1 is considered an STD there are other ways to contract HSV-1 which do not involve sexual intercourse. The HSV-1 virus is commonly transmitted via oral-to-oral contact (kissing) which causes the disease known as oral herpes.
The HSV-1 virus can also cause genital herpes, though it is more commonly associated with the oral herpes infection. The same applies to HSV-2, which is commonly linked to genital herpes but can cause an oral infection as well.
Anyone engaging in sexual intercourse is placing themselves at a heightened risk of contracting HSV-1. Many people don’t realize that they are infected with the herpes virus, often dismissing it as simply ‘cold sores’. If you have ever experienced cold sores, there is a high likelihood that what you are actually experiencing is an outbreak of the herpes virus and you should get tested.
Complications Of Oral Herpes
Most people who have oral herpes caused by HSV-1 have few severe complications. Even though more than half of the adults in the United States have an oral herpes HSV-1 infection, most those people do not realize that they are infected. Oftentimes the disease is asymptomatic and goes unnoticed. When it does flare up it is in the form of blisters or sores around the mouth which can be painful. These are usually called cold sores.
Neonatal herpes - Neonatal herpes is a condition that occurs in infants who are infected with HSV via exposure to the genital form of the infection from their mother at birth. Though rare (occurring in 1 out of 10000 births), neonatal herpes can result in neurological disability or death.
Encephalitis - Herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) is a form of encephalitis which occurs when the herpes simplex virus infects the central nervous system. This is a serious condition that causes fever, severe headache, flu-like symptoms and seizures. HSE can be treated with antiviral medication and is often fatal if not treated properly.