Herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) are DNA viruses of the Herpesviridae family. HSV-1 is highly prevalent in the general population. It is commonly acquired during childhood and is usually limited to the oral area. HSV-2 is usually acquired in adulthood through sexual contact. Neonatal transmission of HSV-1 and HSV-2 is possible during delivery through contact with cervical secretions and may lead to serious complications of the newborn, including death. HSV can be treated with antiviral medications to alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of transmission.
Serology using glycoprotein G is an effective means for type-specific detection of antibodies to HSV-1 or HSV-2. IgM anti-HSV can be detected 9-10 days after exposure and last for 7-14 days, although it may remain detectable for up to 5 weeks. Anti-HSV IgM is often associated with a primary infection but may be detectable during recurrence of the disease. Anti-HSV IgG can be detected 21-28 days following exposure and detectable titers remain for life. Detection of anti-HSV IgM in the absence of anti-HSV IgG can be an effective tool in detecting early stages of HSV infection, and as an indicator of potential primary infection.
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