Herpes simplex virus

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noun, plural: herpes simplex viruses

Any of the viruses belonging to the Herpesviridae (taxonomic family of the herpesvirus) infecting humans and may cause infections such as cold sores, gingivostomatitis, pharyngitis, oral and lip lesions, proctitis, and genital herpes depending on the species type (i.e. type 1 or type 2)


Herpes simplex viruses belong to the family Herpesviridae. There are two types of herpes simplex virus: type 1 and type 2. The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1, or human herpesvirus 1) is the causative agent of oral herpes (with symptoms such as cold sores). It is usually transmitted by oral-to-oral contact. The herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2, or human herpesvirus 2) is the causative agent of genital herpes. The HSV-2, in particular, is the one of the pathogens causing sexually transmitted infections and may increase the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection.1 The common symptoms of oral and genital herpes are painful watery blisters or ulcers at the site of infection. Both HSV-1 and 2 are contagious.

Abbreviation / Acronym:

  • HSV

Scientific classification:

  • Order: Herpesvirales
  • Family: Herpesviridae
  • Subfamily: Alphaherpesvirinae
  • Genus: Simplexvirus

See also:

1 WHO. (2017). Herpes simplex virus. Retrieved from [[1]].