Is Herpes only a Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Dear Dr. Tom:

Is herpes only a sexually transmitted disease?

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Anonymous:

No. Herpes is not exclusively a sexually transmitted disease. For example, I am aware of a child bitten on the cheek in a day care center by another pre-school child. The bitten child began to have recurrences of herpetic lesions on his face shaped as the profile of the biter’s tooth marks. Herpes virus can infect skin of the hands to cause a condition known as herpetic whitlow, an occupational hazard affecting primarily nursing personnel and dental practice workers. Current dictates of the concept of Universal Precautions to glove during health care has lowered this risk remarkably.


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