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.

3 Responses to “Everyone Has a Herpes Virus”

  1. Yo says:

    HSV is Herpes. HPV is genital warts, Certain strains of HPV (warts) can cause abnormal pap cells on your cervix and can also cause ovarian cysts or even ovarian cancer. Herpes will just cause blisters that can be itchy or painful that burst and crust over. You’ll likely feel like you have a cold when you have an outbreak. Sometimes, there are bo symptoms of either. HSV-1 and HSV-2 can infect any part of the body but HSV-1 is typically contracted initially by contact with the mouth. Anyone who gets cold sores probably has HSV-1, but it could be HSV-2, as well. I knew a girl who had an HSV-2 infection on her finger. Another had it on her lower leg.

    It is a virus, so when your immune system is down, you will be more likely to have an outbreak. It’s like any infection. Unfortunately, STD/STI tests run in the U.S. that are covered by insurance (not sure about AU) do not check for Herpes. Gynos don’t even recommend doing it unless someone has symptoms, which seems ridiculous bc so many people are assymptomatic. Which makes it spread like crazy. Even people that have it can take an antiviral pill that will make transmission harder. But if no one knows, it keeps spreading. Sigh.

  2. feenex says:

    Nope. HSV-1 is an infection in your lips which you can contract by simply touching virus to your mouth by kissing someone with a sore(or is about to get one).

    HSV-2 is genital warts which you contract through sex, but recently they have discovered than the 2 strains can be found in opposite places. I think the transmission is self explanatory.

  3. jeuann says:

    interesting, a friend said the same thing to me the other day. but how do you catch HSV-1? is that an sti?