Difference Between HSV-1 and HSV-2

HSV-1 vs HSV-2

The letters HSV1 and HSV2 denote the herpes simplex viruses of the herpesviridae family, which infect humans. As one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, HSV requires our diligent attention. There are two main HSV viruses, and both are contagious. After the initial outbreak, they may stay latent, hidden away from the immune system in the neuronal bodies (neurotropic and neuroinvasive viruses), and get reactivated after some time. These viruses are spread from person to a person by an infected individual; who is shedding the illness. The discussion will be based on the method of spread, clinical presentations of the illness, probable complications and management.

What is HSV1?

HSV1 is the virus, which is known to cause cold sores. Thus, the transmission of the virus is from the ruptured fluid of a cold sore in a patient’s mouth. Though this is the commonest presentation, there have been reports of HSV1 also causing genital herpes. The clinical picture will include herpes gingivostomatitis, herpes labialis, herpetic whitlow of the fingers, keratoconjunctivitis, etc. Another rare but serious condition is neonatal herpes simplex. It depends on the level of infectivity of the mother at the time. A reactivation of the illness can occur, specifically at a time of reduced immunity. Management is done through antiviral medications (oral or local application), but prevention and cessation of transmission of the illness is much easier than dealing with the illness. This can be done, by treating the infected individuals and asking not be in close contact with others (asking not to kiss).

What is HSV2?

HSV2 is the virus associated with genital herpes. Thus, most of the time transmission occurs with sexual contact or in the process of child delivery. Genital herpes presents with papules and fluid filled vesicles, which break and shed the viral particles. They may complain of pain, itching, and burning of the affected areas. They present with the other manifestations of, herpetic whitlow, keratoconjunctivitis, neonatal herpes, as well as meningoencephalitis. There will be episodes of reactivation due to this virus as well, affecting the neurological system leading to palsies of nerves, and it is also suspected to be linked with Alzheimer’s disease. Infection with HSV 2 is linked with a higher chance of acquiring HIV. The management is again through oral and local antiviral medications, but prevention through the use of condoms and elective caesarian section in delivering a child of a mother infected with herpes simplex.

What is the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2?

The main difference of the two viruses are the main presentation of the disease; one as a cold sore and the other as genital herpes. This also relates to the method of viral transmission, though it is oral mucosal contact in HSV 1, it is through sexual contact in HSV 2. HSV 1 is unlikely to produce meningo encephalitis, whereas HSV 2 would. HSV 2 has a higher propensity to acquire HIV, and it also has a higher degree of neonatal herpes simplex. In observing the similarities, both are viral infections transmitted from shedding in vesicular fluid in contact with mucosa. Both present with whitlow, keratitis of the eye, etc. Both can get reactivated, and can affect the neurological system, also both are managed in the same manner. As HSV 1 may also give rise to genital herpes, use of a condom would prevent transmission of HSV1 as well.

In summary, both these viruses are associated with greater debility affecting the eyes and the neonate and are easily preventable illnesses through the practice of safe sex.