While not the first, the researchers report that this study uses the most sensitive techniques in a cross-sectional assessment performed to date of the presence of HSV-1 DNA in the eyes and mouths of healthy individuals, in terms of population size and total samples collected.
HSV-1, and to a lesser extent, HSV-2 are known to be the leading causes of virus-induced blindness in the Western world, with approximately 500,000 individuals having herpetic eye disease in the United States. Humans are reservoirs for herpes viruses and shedding in infected individuals when they are asymptomatic is a major factor in the transmission of the virus.
The 50 participants, who were recruited from the general population, ranged in age from 19 to 71. Nineteen were male and 31 female. African-Americans comprised 78% of the participants. The participants were asked to provide a blood sample as well as samples from twice daily swabs of their eyes and mouths for 30 consecutive days. Samples were analyzed using methods including real-time PCR, the gold standard for HSV detection in clinical samples.
Shedding was intermittent, but overall, 49 participants (98%) shed HSV-1 DNA at least
once during the study. Thirty-seven participants (74%) had positive blood test results. The percentages of positive results between the eye and mouth swabs were approximately equivalent, but one measure showed higher
Contact: Leslie Capo
Louisiana State University Health Science Center