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N Engl J Med. 1987 Jun 4;316(23):1444-9.

Recurrences after oral and genital herpes simplex virus infection. Influence of site of infection and viral type.


We prospectively followed 39 adults with concurrent primary herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection (12 with HSV type 1 and 27 with HSV type 2) of the oropharynx and genitalia, caused by the same virus in each person, to evaluate the influence of viral type (HSV-1 vs. HSV-2) and site of infection (oropharyngeal vs. genital) on the frequency of recurrence. The subsequent recurrence patterns of HSV infection differed markedly according to viral type and anatomical site. Oral-labial recurrences developed in 5 of 12 patients with HSV-1 and 1 of 27 patients with HSV-2 (P less than 0.001). Conversely, genital recurrences developed in 24 of 27 patients with HSV-2 and 3 of 12 patients with HSV-1 (P less than 0.01). The mean rate of subsequent genital recurrences (due to HSV-1 and HSV-2) was 0.23 per month, whereas the mean rate of oral-labial recurrences was only 0.04 per month (P less than 0.001). The mean monthly frequencies of recurrence were, in order, genital HSV-2 infections, 0.33 per month; oral-labial HSV-1 infections, 0.12 per month; genital HSV-1 infections, 0.020 per month; and oral HSV-2 infections, 0.001 per month (P less than 0.01 for each comparison). We conclude that the likelihood of reactivation of HSV infection differs between HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections and between the sacral and trigeminal anatomical sites. The sixfold more frequent clinical recurrence rate of genital HSV infections as compared with oral-labial HSV infections may account for the relatively rapid increase in the prevalence of clinically recognized genital herpes in recent years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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