Genital Herpes

Organism Herpesvirus simplex type 2 (HSV2); less commonly type 1 (HSV1).

Clinical features Painful vesicles develop on the genitalia or surrounding area, which can subsequently ulcerate. Healing occurs after initial infection only to recur at frequent intervals, often precipitated by stress or menstruation. Infection of the neonate can occur during delivery resulting in encephalitis, liver damage or lesions in the eye, mouth or skin. Infection with HSV2 carries an increased risk of developing HIV infection.

Diagnosis is made on clinical presentation and by scrapings of the lesions where characteristic multi-nucleated giant cells with intranuclear bodies are seen on microscopy.

Transmission is by sexual intercourse or direct contact, such as oral-genital, or to the infant during delivery.

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