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HERPES: The infection called herpes

- The infection called herpes
- Seek treatment for herpes

The infection called herpes
Written by Dr. Sylvester Ikhisemojie
~Punch Nigeria. Sunday, February 19, 2017.

Written by Dr. Sylvester Ikhisemojie
Herpes is an infection caused by a very resourceful kind of microbe known as a virus. It is a clever virus too which finds it easy or convenient to adapt to their respective hosts. The virus causing herpes is of two types which are named the Herpes simplex Type 1 and Type 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). The former is mostly involved in causing lesions around the face or more broadly, around the head and neck. In some cases, it causes a severe kind of gum inflammation called gingivostomatitis. This is often seen in children. The Type 2 is mainly found in association with disease in the genital region. This broad categorisation is sometimes wrong especially among certain population groups in whom the Type 1 is found more in association with genital diseases than the Type 2.

Herpes is not a new disease although it was not properly understood until the last two decades of the twentieth century. It dates back to more than 2000 years when the ancient Greeks in response to the creepy nature of the disease named it a creeping or crawling disease. In the Type 1 disease in which the face and lips are primarily involved, the skin problem it causes often resembles a bleeding gum. Most of these infections are not associated with any notable condition or illness. In the majority of cases, there is in fact, no disease status. However, when there is such a disease condition developing in association with this infection, significant illness, incapacitation and even death can occur.

This disease condition has increased in importance and spread in the last quarter of a century. It has therefore become a major public health concern and even though there is no immediate association with this virus of dramatic images of suffering and disease and death, the conditions exist without doubt. There is much ignorance about this virus and what it causes and there is so much else in terms of what damage it can cause especially among those people who already have a compromised immune status as a result of another condition like cancer treatment or long-standing kidney or liver disease. It is also more likely to occur in people with AIDS. In the United States, herpes is the most common cause of genital ulcers.

Both strains of the virus can cause disease in man as has been mentioned above. In addition, they are able to penetrate the unique kind of tissue prevalent in nerves and induce those cells to allow them to reproduce and multiply. It tends therefore, to follow the various nerve routes prevalent in the areas of the body where it mounts its attacks. It can complicate the wounds associated with burns and certain other skin conditions that would result in an inflammation of the skin known as dermatitis. The virus is found everywhere in the world and no age group is exempt from its effects. It is endemic in the human population and human beings are its only known reservoir. The virus also has no known natural vectors but it is liable to perform periodic reactivation which is the reason why so many sufferers of the infection become depressed and poorly motivated when they are exposed to repeated infection. The virus is speedily inactivated by drying and at room temperature so that it quickly loses its potency once it is outside the body. As a result of that weakness, it is not common to get the infection by droplets or in the form of aerosol.

Herpes simplex is transmitted by close personal contact. The subsequent inoculation with the virus is through the mucosa of the mouth and lips, the cervix and the conjunctiva as well as small tears or cuts in the skin. Transmission through sexual intercourse is an important method of spread and it is more easily contracted by those who already have some prior genital infection because the mucosal lining of the organ concerned would have been breached sufficiently for the virus to gain entry into the body. Once this happens, a life time of repeated flare up of the infection becomes the order of the person's life and that is very depressing.

Expectant mothers also can pass on the virus to their unborn babies with significant risk of illness and even death in store for the unborn baby. In the new-born period, it can cause significant disease and features like fever, jaundice and failure to thrive are associated with it. Sometimes, these new-borns die from the sheer combination of symptoms. The mortality rate associated with this infection is determined by three key features: these are infection in the person who is already suffering from a compromised immune status; one who has developed encephalitis which is a swelling of the brain caused by the ability of the virus to cross into that organ and infection of babies around the time of birth.

Herpes simplex can also be found in children who did not contract it from their mothers. Often, they suffer from the Type 1 which they can obtain from saliva. They are able to get this variant from exchanging kisses with an older person who has contracted the infection. Type 2 infections are associated with sexual abuse in young children so that the presence of the tell-tale lesions in this age group would be an indication of sexual molestation and even abuse. There are about 23 million new cases every year of this infection. While the world has been riveted to the dramatic data from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, not much has been heard about this disease and that is despite the fact that significant loss of life of new-borns is seen in association with it.

Besides, women are far more likely to suffer from the infection than men. They are also more likely for obvious reasons, to pass the virus on to babies and children either while still in the womb or after delivery. This disease is therefore, not just one of those conditions but a significant ailment that genuinely warrants the attention of governments and health organisations everywhere in the world.


Ask the doctor

Dear doctor, I read your article in SUNDAY PUNCH titled "Tackling syphilis." I just found out that I have had this disease for over 20 years because I have almost all the symptoms you mentioned in your article i.e. from the small sores that come and go without treatment to hair loss, constant headache and weight loss. I am 53 years old. Can it be cured and how? What can I do about it? 

If it does prove to be syphilis, it would mean that you are in the latent phase of the illness. You can therefore still be treated and that can be obtained with a venereal diseases expert or a dermatologist. You will find these experts in a federal medical centre, a teaching hospital or some of the specialist hospitals around the country. However, the first step must be to confirm that what you indeed suffer from is syphilis and that can only be done when you have undergone some of the tests we discussed in the essay. Start that process today.


Dear doctor, I am 22 years old, but I look like a girl of 14. I am still a virgin. Please what is wrong with me? 

Nothing is wrong with you. If you look younger than your age, that is a compliment for a woman. Other women spend tons of money to look younger than their age. As your looks are a gift, appreciate them and be grateful to God.


Dear doctor, my 16-year-old boy has been stooling blood for three weeks now. There is no pain. What could be the cause?

He may have piles or there may be an infection. It is better for you to take him to a doctor for examination to determine what the possible cause might be. Knowing what has caused this problem is as good as treating it because the solution will be clear then.

Dear doctor, my wife is 29 years and we have two kids already. I notice that the last time she had her period was November last year. She told me that she lost so much blood that month. Ever since then, she has not seen any other period. Moreover, I noticed a strange increase in the size of her stomach. The stomach is much bigger than before. I told her to visit the hospital to complain but she was told that nothing was wrong with her. Please tell me the drugs to use or a solution to our problem. It is very urgent. 

There are several possibilities responsible for how your wife feels. Something may be growing in that stomach that gives you concern. It may be a baby or it may be a fibroid and it may be neither of these. It may also be due to her age. See your doctor as soon as possible for examination and at least a pelvic ultrasound scan. These are the minimum things you should be doing before looking for medications to swallow.


Dear doctor, please I need your answer and advice. Does ulcer occur in the heart, and what is the cure? Thanks. 

No sir. Ulcer does not occur in the heart. When people talk about heart burn, they refer to one of the symptoms of peptic ulcer disease and it is described that way for lack of a better explanation for the feeling one has. There is treatment for that, of course, but not for an 'ulcer of the heart,' which I have never even heard of.


Dear doctor, I am 22-year-old and single, but I always masturbate. I need your advice; please tell me the effect and how I can stop it. Thank you. 

There is no medical effect of masturbation. About 90 per cent of males and around 60 per cent of females engage in the practice. No deadly effect has been reported provided no harmful implements are used. If you want to stop it, simply tell yourself that you no longer want to do it and that should end the matter.


Dear doctor, I feel something like a worm always goes round my waist until I stop breathing for some minutes before I will regain my balance. Please what seems to be the problem? 

There is no problem with you as far as I can tell. Perhaps, the entire episode is something that bothers on hysteria or some kind of depressive illness and for either of those conditions; you do need to see a psychiatrist to help us in arriving at the subconscious cause. It is not a physical problem. Good luck.


Dear doctor, my friend was diagnosed a little over a year ago of elevated blood pressure which led to a partial stroke involving his right hand. He has been undergoing physiotherapy of the hand, but it appears that the rehabilitation process is taking longer than expected. Presently, he can sign effortlessly, but his fear is that the return of feeling to the right hand should have been faster. What would you advise him to do in the form of exercises? Thanks. 

I believe he has done remarkably well having seen progress from a partial paralysis to a status where he can effortlessly sign cheques and other documents. He is very fortunate. The recovery of sensation is less certain and the duration varies greatly in different people. There are no specific exercises I can therefore recommend other than that he should repeat his current range of movements and exercises as frequently as possible to the point of perfection. That way, some of the sensation will eventually return.


Seek treatment for herpes

Written by Rotimi Adesanya - Nigeria. 

Rotimi Adesanya

I made reference to a recent press statement by the World Health Organisation, which states that two-thirds of the world’s population under 50 years are afflicted with the highly infectious herpes virus that causes fever blisters and cold sores around the mouth.

The implication of this statement is that more than 3.7 billion people worldwide under the age of 50 suffer from the Herpes Simplex Virus type 1.

As discussed last week, HSV-1 normally causes mouth ulcers and oral herpes infection, but it is becoming an increasing cause of genital infection too.
This means people who are infected by HSV-1 may also have genital herpes.
A particular patient developed a rash with blisters on the skin which later turned to sores after the blisters burst.

He had all the viral tests done with the diagnosis in favour of herpes simplex virus 1. He was managed for herpes and got well.
A month later, the patient had a problem urinating. Sometimes he experiences a burning feeling while urinating. He has done several tests for urinary infections with no significant finding. He was subjected to a prostate test, which also comes out normal.
At the end of the consultation, he discovered that it was the herpes infection that is giving him the signs of difficulty in urinating.

Do you have problem urinating? It could be herpes.

The other causes of difficulty in passing urine like prostate disorders in men, a urinary tract infections are more common and will need to be ruled out, while also considering diagnosis of herpes.

Genital herpes, caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 , is a form of sexually transmitted disease and of serious public health importance.

Risk factors

A person usually gets infected with HSV-2 through sexual contact. Some people are more likely to get HSV-2. These people:
Have had many sex partners.
Had sex for the first time at a young age.
Have (or had) another sexually transmitted infection.
Have a weakened immune system due to a disease or medicine.
How people get genital herpes

Genital herpes can be got after coming into contact with HSV-1 or HSV-2. Most people get genital herpes from HSV-2, which they get during sex.
If someone has a cold sore and performs oral sex, this can spread HSV-1 to the genitals and cause herpes sores to appear on the genitals.
Mothers can give the herpes virus to their baby during childbirth. If the baby is born during the mother’s first episode of genital herpes, the baby may face serious problems.


When a person becomes infected with a herpes virus, the virus never leaves the body. After the first outbreak, the virus moves from the skin cells to nerve cells.
At this stage, the virus is said to be dormant or asleep. But it can become active again.
Most people are treated with an antiviral medicine. An antiviral cream or ointment can relieve the burning, itching, or tingling and can shorten an outbreak of herpes.
Antiviral medicine approved for the treatment of both types of herpes simplex is a prescription drug.


If there is tingling, burning, itching, or tenderness where one has herpes sore, that part of the body should be kept away from other people and sex should be avoided with uninfected partners.
Pregnant women should tell their doctors if they or their partners have genital herpes.
There is the need to take some medicines during pregnancy to prevent passing the virus to the unborn baby.
In conclusion, genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. 

Therefore, the STD, prevention strategy also applies:

- Abstain from sex.
- Be faithful to your partner.

- Use condoms always.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so exited to share my testimonies about the Good Work of Dr. Udebhu who get me cured from herpes simplex virus (HSV1&2) with his herbs, I never thought that I will live on earth before the year runs out. I have been suffering from herpes, I had spent a lot of money going from one Hospital to another looking for way to get rid of this disease, the hospital have been my home everyday residence. Constant checks up have been my hobby not until this faithful day, I was searching
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