[Question #758] Does HSV spread from locations other than the general area of infection/outbreak

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96 months ago
I was hoping to get some clarification from an expert concerning a question I have about the Herpes Simplex Virus.

As I understand it the virus can only be spread from around the physical area of the infection (the general area where outbreak occurs, whether or not there are sores present). If someone has genital herpes, located in their vagina for instance, there is no way for that infection to be passed from their mouth such as with oral sex. Is that correct? To clarify, does having an outbreak of sores in one location mean that you are contagious from completely separate parts of the body?

This is in regards to a woman who was infected vaginally a few months ago, had her initial outbreak in that location, and no outbreaks since or elsewhere on her body. I understand if she had a separate infection of HSV-1 orally then there is always a slight possibility of spreading that through oral sex, but in this case where she has had no oral outbreaks orally, and no known history of HSV-1.

I'm really surprised that in all my searching this isn't called out plainly on pretty much any site, they often say things like "HSV is contracted from outbreak sores, or shedding through the skin when there is no outbreak" and while the first part specifies local contact with the area of the infection the second part is always vague, and seems worded in a way to indicate that the shedding can occur from any location. 


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96 months ago
I'm a bit surprised this one is taking so long to answer, it seems like a straightforward question. Is there any more information I can provide to speed it up? I payed the $25 question fee yesterday.
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Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
96 months ago
Sorry, I am in Morocco for the international STD meeting, with intermittent internet access.
The answer is if someone is infected genitally only, they do not shed from their mouth, no.  Only from the genital tract.  
The set of nerves that innervate the genitals is different from that set that innervates the mouth.  It is correct that someone can shed virus with or without symptoms.

Is there something else I can answer for you?
I'm so sorry for the delay

Terri Warren