Herpes

Herpes

PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET

What is Herpes?
Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), either type I or type II.  “Fever blisters” or “cold sores” are usually caused by HSV I, whereas genital infections are usually caused by HSV II. 

How is Herpes spread?
Herpes is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Oral herpes can be spread to other areas of the infected person’s body (eyes, genitals), or to another person through kissing, oral sex or careless hygiene. Genital herpes can also be spread to other parts of the infected person’s body (eyes, mouth), or to another person through sexual contact or through vaginal birth.

How is herpes prevented?
  • There should be no sexual activity when you or your partner have herpes symptoms. Condoms may not prevent herpes, but careful use of a latex condom during all sexual activity may decrease the risk of herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Avoid kissing and oral sex when fever blisters are present.

What is the treatment?
Herpes infection cannot be cured. There is a medication called acyclovir (Zovirax) that can decrease the symptoms or can be used to decrease the number of repeat outbreaks. See your doctor for specific treatment.

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SYMPTOMS OF HERPES
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Swollen glands
  • Burning while urinating
  • Vaginal discharge