herpes simplex virus
Herpes is a virus in the family Herpesviridae. Type 1 HSV causes blisters on the lips, nostrils, and possibly on the lining of the eyelids. Type 2 HSV causes blisters and lesions on and around genitalia. Type 2 HSV is a sexually-transmitted disease. The most common symptom is a single blister or cluster of painful blister-like sores. In females the genital lesions appear around the vaginal opening, urethra, anus and buttocks. Burning during urination and abnormal vaginal discharge may occur. Males may develop blisters on the penis and/or around the anus and buttocks. The fluid-filled sores are highly contagious and may last up to three weeks. They will usually crust over, form a scab and then heal completely without scarring. Other symptoms include fever, headache, swollen glands, muscle aches and tiredness. These symptoms are most common during the initial herpes outbreak. Individuals who have sexual contact with an infected partner may develop symptoms within 2-10 days or longer. Herpes is transmitted through the mucous membranes by direct physical contact with an individual who has the blister-like lesions. Oral, anal and genital sexual activity can transmit the virus; using a condom and spermicides during sex can reduce the risk of transmission. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid sexual contact with a person with herpes symptoms. If a pregnant woman contracts herpes, there is a chance that her baby will be infected during delivery if the woman has genital sores. There is currently no cure for herpes, though treatments exist to alleviate symptoms; treaments include the prescription drugs alacyclovir (Valtrex) or Acyclovir (Zovirax).
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