Is Herpes Simplex I, airborne?

Dear Dr. Tom:

What is Herpes Simplex I?

How do you contract it?

How contagious is it?

Is Herpes Simplex I, a sexual transmitted diseases?

Is Herpes Simplex I, airborne?

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Anonymous:

1. Herpes simplex virus type 1 is a member of the herpes group associated with but not restricted to the upper part of the body. It is the fever blister agent. Many infants contract asymptomatic infections with it by 18 months as a result of familial household exposure. It is prepubertal and associated primarily with the head and mouth. 2. HSV-1 is transmitted usually by primary infection of the respiratory tract. 3. Although HSV-1 is more likely to remain latent, hence asymptomatic, the virus is nonetheless infectious to others. This fact is often the answer to, “How did I get it”? Oral sex is a known means for it to become the agent of genital herpes in a sex partner. 4. HSV-1 is assuredly a sexually transmitted disease agent, and the differentiation between HSV-1 and HSV-2 as genital area infectious agents is becoming less distinct. 5. We like to think of herpes viruses as not being airborne, but the entry of HSV-1 as a primary infectious agent of the respiratory tract and the tendency of young family members to become infected casually at home tends to argue against the non-airborne concept.


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