Everyone Has a Herpes Virus
Did you know that you most likely have live viruses hiding in your nerves and central nervous system? If you have ever had a cold sore, or even the chicken pox than you do. Both of these viruses are of the herpes virus family which as well as cause visible effects of their infection, also hide in your nerves waiting to reinfect later.
I say ‘hides’ because our bodies have actually developed mechanisms to prevent our own body’s defenses from attacking nerve cells. These defenses are necessary because nerve cells are extremely important for movement and being able to react to the environment around you. This can be as simple as putting on a sweater because your can sense that your body is cold or moving your hand out of the fire because you can sense that it is painful.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV-1. The virus infects the cells in your lips as well as traveling up the sensory neurons. Your body controls the virus by killing the cells in your lips which are infected with the virus; this cell death causes the blistering sore. The virus particles which have made it to the nerves hide in waiting.
Factors such as sunlight or stress (which causes changes in hormones) can reactivate the virus which will travel back down to the lips and reinfect them producing a new sore. This cycle can be repeated numerous times throughout the life of the person. Even if you do not have cold sores there is still a possibility that you can have the virus in your nerves and it is just not being reactivated. 70-90% of adults have this virus.
The virus that causes chicken pox, the varicella-zoster herpes virus, also hides out in your nervous system. As a child the virus spreads to your skin and you have the itchy-red spotted rash. Some of the viruses hide in the nerves and wait until the person is older and their defences become less effective. When this occurs the virus re-emerges and causes shingles, a similar rash. Although the HSV-1 virus can reinfect many times the varicella-zoster virus only reinfects once.
Other herpes viruses:
HSV-2 which causes genital sores occurs in 20-60% of adults.
Epstein-Barr virus, EBV, which causes glandular fever, occurs in ~90% of adults.
Cytomegalovirus, CMV, which causes mild fever, occurs is 40-100% of adults.
Again, even if you do not have any symptoms the virus can still be present in your body.