Oral Herpes (cont.)
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Oral Herpes (HSV-1) Causes
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a DNA virus that causes sores in and around the mouth. Two herpes subtypes may cause these sores.
These viruses enter the body through small cuts, abrasions, or breaks in the skin or mucous membranes. The majority enter after an uninfected person has direct contact with someone carrying the virus (either with or without noticeable lesions). Simply touching an infected person is often the way children get exposed. Adolescents and adults frequently get exposed by skin contact also but may get their first exposure by kissing or sexual contact, especially for HSV-2.
Oral lesions (and genital lesions) can reoccur. This happens because the HSV viruses are still alive but exist in nerve cells in a quiet, inactive (dormant) state,. Occasionally, conditions in the body (see Stage 3 above) allow the HSV to actively multiply, resulting in a new crop of lesions.
The HSV viruses multiply in the human cells by overtaking and utilizing most of the human cells functions. One of the HSV steps in multiplication is to take control of the human cell's nucleus and alter its structure. The altered nucleus (enlarged and lobulated or multinucleated) is what is used to help diagnose HSV infections by microscopic examination. The reason sores appear is because as they mature the many HSV particles rupture the human cell's membrane as they break out of the cell.
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