Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 (HSV2) is categorized as one of the two types of herpes viruses which are not usually transmitted by oral contacts. This does not mean that a large number of people do not get infected orally, given the fact that people who live with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to the disease than others with sound health.
One of the easiest ways to recognize HSV2 is the evidence of sores and blisters transmitted after sexual intercourse with an infected person. This is referred to as herpes lesions. For one to be infected with the disease, therefore, there must have been a skin-to-skin contact which could be oral as opposed to other infections which could only be transmitted through semen or other genital fluids.
In furtherance of the above, HSV2 is transmitted when an infected person’s part of the body comes into contact with mucous membranes or when it is exposed generally to infected people.
Oral Transmission of HSV-2
It is regarded as uncommon for HSV2 to be transmitted orally when partners come in contact. However, cases recorded from all around the world shows that it is very possible. Several ways of oral transmission of HSV2 are:
- Skin to skin contact is the actual way by which HSV-2 can be transmitted from person to person during sexual intercourse. Since sexual intercourse can be said to be inevitable, so also is oral sex greatly on the rise today.
- An infected individual with Herpes Simplex Virus hosts the virus in his or her body system for a long time even before the onset of symptoms. The virus wanders around the body and can be found in different parts including the mouth, which can then present sores around the area or the vagina. Contact with this sore is a perfect way of getting infected with the herpes simplex virus because the virus is present in large numbers inside such sores.
- Aside from a sore, there might be secretions from different parts of the body in infected individuals; this is a mucous secretion that contains the virus in large numbers as well. The secretion can also be present in the mouth or genitals. Consequently, contact with secretions from the mouth during oral sex gives rise to the transmission of the herpes simplex virus from the infected partner to the other non-infected person.
- Even in people who do not exhibit symptoms, HSV-2 transmission can still occur via the mouth. This is made possible when there is mouth to mouth contact and an exchange of saliva from the mouth. The saliva can contain the virus in large numbers which makes the situation ideal to transfer the infection.
General Symptoms of HSV2
HSV2 and HSV1 possess similar symptoms, and by implication, people with the different viruses experience similar outcomes when suffering from either infection. Surprisingly, some even experience milder symptoms than others do while some experience no symptoms at all (this is not an assurance that the virus does not exist and cannot be transmitted to other people.) The symptoms a person infected with HSV2 would notice include, but are not limited to:
- Painful red sores
- Irritation of the skin
- An itching, tingling, and burning sensation which may occur around the mouth, lips, or genital area
- Small blisters that bleed
- Body aches and pain
- Swollen glands in the armpit, groin, or neck
- Infections on the eyelids or the eyeball
- A sore throat
How to know if one has Oral HSV2
Oral HSV2 does not always disclose symptoms, but when it does, the infected person would experience some of the above symptoms. If one does experience the symptoms or suspect the tendency of being infected with the disease, going for a test would be the best thing to do.
How soon can one notice HSV2?
After being infected, the first signs usually appear between two (2) to twelve (12) days and would cause severe blisters in or around the mouth, lips, and tongue. After 10 days, the tendency of experiencing severe blisters and sores are high as pain in different parts of the body increases till about 14 days.
The differences between Canker Sores and HSV2
Canker sores in the mouth differ with a big wall of distinction from oral herpes (cold sores). It sounds so similar by name to one another but a severe examination would show their differences. The differences between them are therefore as follows:
- Cold sores tend to occur often on the roof and gums of the mouth while canker sores, on the other hand, appears on the insides of the lip or back of the throat, as the case may be.
- Cold sores heal more quickly than canker sores and appear to be smaller when both are compared.
- Cold sores tend to recur in the same location while canker sores occur mostly in different parts.
- Canker sores show up in many places inside the mouth while cold sores, on the other hand, shows up on the lips.
- The appearance of the canker sores is in the form of a reddened raised areas which consequently develops into larger sores while cold sores form as multiple blisters in tiny forms.
Other ways by which HSV2 can be transmitted
Apart from oral transmission, HSV2 can also be transmitted in various ways. Some of which are:
- Vaginal sex. Vaginal Sex is the most common method of HSV2 transmission. During vaginal sexual intercourse, there is the release of fluid from one person to the other. If one of the partners is infected with the virus, there is a greater likelihood for it to be transmitted to the other partner.
- Mother to child. Infected pregnant women also have every tendency to transmit the infection to their babies because there is always an exchange of fluids, including blood, during the fetal life of the baby. The blood of the mother which contains HSV2 can be transferred to the baby, thereby causing infection.
- Unsafe blood transfusion. Since the virus can be found in the blood of an infected person, transfusion of that particular blood, if unscreened for HSV2, can lead to the immediate infection of HSV-2 in the recipient because the transfused infected blood goes into the bloodstream of the patient.
Prevention and treatment of Oral HSV2
It is important to take steps to decrease the tendency of spreading the oral HSV2 virus since it is not treatable, so far. However, it can be prevented with the following measures which include, but are not limited to:
- The use of condoms or dental dams for oral sexual activities
- Reducing the number of partners which one has sex with
- Abstaining from sexual activities
- Getting regular STI tests alongside one’s partner to ascertain the true and current status.
HSV2 is an infection to be aware of and most importantly, to know that it can be transmitted through oral sexual intercourse with an infected person. One should, therefore, take precautions when having oral sexual intercourse because of the tendency of contracting oral HSV2.