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Keywords:

  • clinical features;
  • diagnosis;
  • epidemiology;
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1;
  • viral aspects

Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) is a nuclear replicating enveloped virus, usually acquired through direct contact with infected lesions or body fluids (typically saliva). The prevalence of HSV-1 infection increases progressively from childhood, the seroprevalence being inversely related to socioeconomic background. Primary HSV-1 infections in children are either asymptomatic or following an incubation period of about 1 week gives rise to mucocutaneous vesicular eruptions. Herpetic gingivostomatitis typically affects the tongue, lips, gingival, buccal mucosa and the hard and soft palate. Most primary oro-facial HSV infection is caused by HSV-1, infection by HSV-2 is increasingly common. Recurrent infections, which occur at variable intervals, typically give rise to vesiculo-ulcerative lesions at mucocutaneous junctions particularly the lips (herpes labialis). Recurrent HSV-1 infection within the mouth is uncommon in otherwise healthy patients, although in immunocompromised patients, recurrent infection can be more extensive and/or aggressive. The diagnosis of common herpetic infection can usually be based upon the clinical history and presenting features. Confirmatory laboratory diagnosis is, however, required when patients are, or may be, immunocompromised.