Can Herpes ever cause Tonsillitis?

Dear Dr. Tom:

I have a couple of questions. First, can herpes be spread by drinking after other people? Second, can herpes ever cause tonsillitis? If so, would the tonsils first appear black and then white? Thank you so much for your being available to answer questions!

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Anonymous Who Asks About Second Drinking:

If we consider that herpes virus in saliva is capable of causing herpetic whitlow in personnel who perform such tasks as handling dentures without gloves in elder nursing home residents, then I suppose by parallel logic, herpes is transmissible by drinking immediately after someone who is infected. I do not know of such an actual case. Perhaps my advisors at the CDC or other professionals out there may have more definitive data or know of a case. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are capable of causing acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis, and yes, a whitish exudate can result from the sometimes extensively ulcerated area. Both types may be transmitted among other ways by oral-genital contact, and a study of these two conditions in University of Wisconsin students was published in the 1964, J. Am. Med. Assn., (JAMA), vol.190, p.699. In some cases such patients have been treated erroneously for streptococcal sore throat.


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