A novel discovery that may help develop comprehensive treatment for infection by genital herpes virus has been made by scientists from University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle.
Genital herpes is caused by a reactivation of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and is generally treated as a lesion in one specific area of the genital region.
In the new study, researchers found that the virus can frequently reactivate throughout the genital tract, an important new concept that could help guide both HSV-2 treatment and prevention.
Lead researcher Dr Christine Johnston and colleaguescollected daily samples during a 30-day period from seven separate genital sites in four women infected with HSV-2.
HSV-2 was detected from more than one anatomic site on 56 percent of days when there was viral shedding-and on genital surfaces on both sides of the participants' bodies on most days when virus was detected at more than one site.
The authors found that both symptomatic and asymptomatic HSV-2 reactivations often occurred at widely spaced regions throughout the genital tract.
These reactivations were often on both sides of the body, even though clinical lesions typically emanate from one anatomic spot.
The study findings may help in developing comprehensive treatment that both suppresses and limits the transmission of HSV-2 infection.
The study appears in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.