Herpes

Giovanni Maga maga at vetbio.unizh.ch
Mon Apr 15 11:11:35 EST 1996


In article <4kr62b$6ac$1 at mhafc.production.compuserve.com>, Martin Davies
<101676.721 at CompuServe.COM> wrote:

> Any information about this nasty little virus, which seems
> to be spreading at an epidemic rate?

If you refer to HerpesSimplex 1 and 2, they are already spread up within
70-80% of the world population, thus the term epidemic is a bit confusing.
Most of the primary infections occurring in childhood are aysmptomatic and
lead to spontaneous life-long recurrencies, that can cause a variable
degree of inconvenience, but rarely lead to severe symptoms (in
immunocompromised patients these viruses are, on the other hand, a major
pain). Exceptions are: eye infections, encephalitis, especially in
children. Also of bigger concern are neonatal infections (forunately quite
rare). Too much to say in a letter. Have a look to any virology textbook
or ask your physician for basic infos.

> 
> Is there a long term cure, without the use of Zovirax?

HSV1 and 2 enter a latent state in neuronal ganglia, that lasts all life
long (of the host). Unfortunately there is no vaccine available and none
of the drugs currently approved has been proved to be able to eradicate
the latent virus (which is present as viral DNA, a few small RNA's and
virtually no viral proteins). Zovirax (based on the drug Acyclovir) is one
of the most effective in controlling viral proliferation either in the
primary infection or in the recurrencies. BVdU and IdU are also effective.

> 
> I also need information about the possible long term effects of
> contacting the virus in the female cervix region..

In case of occurrence of a vaginal HSV 2 infection, a treatment with the
appropriate drug (under physician's control) will easily get rid of the
infection. No worry about that anymore. Recurrencies can be easily treated
in the same way. No long-terms effects have been proved so far. 
Chronic infection by HSV 2, followed by frequent recurrencies in the
cervix has been in some cases correlated with higher susceptibility toward
cancer. However, a clear role in cell transformation by HSV 2 (as far as I
know) has never been proven and indeed HSV 2 IS NOT classified as an
oncovirus. The above cited correlation must be taken very carefully, since
the epidemiological studies are not conclusive and could be complicated by
the concomitant presence of another virus, HPV, that is oncogenic, tends
to localize at the same site and is present within the female population
(even if it is much less widespread than HSV 2).  Basically, healthy
individuals do not have to worry about herpetic infections (with the
exceptions cited above).
In case the infection will show up during pregnancy, there is basically no
reason to worry, but a visit to the gynecologist is a must. 
NOT because of the HSV infections, but regular medical consulting (once
per year) with a gynecologist is always a good practice for women above
40's, even in the absence of any specific problem.



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