The cold sore at the edge of the mouth is the best known and most frequent manifestation of the herpes virus type 1, it concerns ten million French people. During the next Health Monday, which will take place as the previous time, by videoconference, due to the epidemic of covid-19, it will be about the two herpes simplex 1 and 2. The second, genital herpes, less frequent, affects two million French people.
To talk about it, the public health service of the City of Brest invited two doctors, Drs Léa Pilorgé, virologist, and Bruno Sassolas, dermatologist at the CHRU de Brest.
Two viruses and several locations
“It is not its location that indicates the presence of a herpes virus type 1 or 2. Herpes of the lip can originate from a type 2 virus, and vice versa. As a result of oral-genital sexual practices, there are more and more genital herpes 1 infections. For its part, herpes 2 is more comfortable in the genital area; when it touches the mouth, it has a harder time reactivating, ”says Dr Léa Pilorgé.
L’herpes affects the skin, forming small vesicles grouped in clumps on the mouth or genitals. In addition, there are, each year in France, 60,000 cases of ocular herpes, around twenty cases of neonatal herpes and around 200 severe cases of herpetic encephalitis.
Like many viral illnesses, herpes is contagious, especially if the person causing the infection is having an outbreak of herpes. Genital herpes 2 is a sexually transmitted disease, and recurrent attacks can cause pain and psychological discomfort, which affects quality of life.
“The treatment is the same for herpes 1 and 2: it is an antiviral, aciclovir, on the market for forty years, the derivatives of which are also effective, intravenously or orally. This has revolutionized care, especially when the infections are symptomatic of moderate to severe severity, ”adds Dr Bruno Sassolas.
“The herpes virus is capable of infecting an individual and going into hiding before reactivating itself, during stress, for example, or a decline in immunity. When they are in latency, they are inaccessible to the immune system and to treatment, they are viruses that we never get rid of. But, in industrialized countries, the frequency tends to decrease, ”says Dr Léa Pilorgé.