Some common viral infections are caused by a group of viruses called herpesviruses. Eight different types of herpesviruses infect people:
Three herpesviruses— herpes simplex virus Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Infections Herpes simplex virus infection causes recurring episodes of small, painful, fluid-filled blisters on the skin, mouth, lips (cold sores), eyes, or genitals. This very contagious viral infection... read more type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, and varicella-zoster virus (herpesvirus type 3, which causes chickenpox Chickenpox Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection with the varicella-zoster virus that causes a characteristic itchy rash, consisting of small, raised, blistered, or crusted spots. Chickenpox... read more and shingles Shingles Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by a viral infection that results from reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox. What causes the virus to reactivate... read more )—cause infections that produce blisters on the skin or mucus membranes.
Epstein-Barr virus (herpesvirus type 4) causes infectious mononucleosis Infectious Mononucleosis Epstein-Barr virus causes a number of diseases, including infectious mononucleosis. The virus is spread through kissing. Symptoms vary, but the most common are extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat... read more and may be involved in certain cancers (such as nasopharyngeal cancer Nasopharyngeal Cancer Nasopharyngeal cancers are cancers originating at the back of the nasal passage, from above the soft palate to the upper part of the throat. People often develop lumps in their neck or may have... read more , Burkitt lymphoma Burkitt Lymphoma Burkitt lymphoma is a very fast-growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of white blood cells that originates from B cells (B lymphocytes). Lymphomas (see also Overview of Lymphoma) are cancers... read more , and Hodgkin lymphoma Hodgkin Lymphoma Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes and is distinguished from other lymphomas by the presence of a particular kind of cancer cell called a Reed-Sternberg... read more ).
Cytomegalovirus Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection Cytomegalovirus infection is a common herpesvirus infection with a wide range of symptoms: from no symptoms to fever and fatigue (resembling infectious mononucleosis) to severe symptoms involving... read more (herpesvirus type 5) is a cause of serious infections in newborns and in people with a weakened immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is designed to defend the body against foreign or dangerous invaders. Such invaders include Microorganisms (commonly called germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) Parasites... read more . It can also cause symptoms similar to infectious mononucleosis Infectious Mononucleosis Epstein-Barr virus causes a number of diseases, including infectious mononucleosis. The virus is spread through kissing. Symptoms vary, but the most common are extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat... read more in people with a healthy immune system.
Human herpesviruses 6 and 7 cause a childhood infection called roseola infantum Roseola Infantum Roseola infantum is a contagious viral infection of infants or very young children that causes a high fever followed by a rash. Roseola infantum is caused by infection with human herpesvirus-6... read more .
Human herpesvirus 8 causes certain cancers (Kaposi sarcoma Kaposi Sarcoma Kaposi sarcoma is a skin cancer that causes multiple flat pink, red, or purple patches or bumps on the skin. It is caused by human herpesvirus type 8 infection. One or a few spots may appear... read more and some types of lymphoma), in people with a weakened immune system such as people with AIDS Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a viral infection that progressively destroys certain white blood cells and is treated with antiretroviral medications. If untreated, it can cause... read more .
Did You Know...
All of the herpesviruses cause lifelong infection because the virus remains within its host cell in an inactive (dormant or latent) state. Sometimes the virus reactivates and produces further episodes of disease. Symptoms from reactivation can be different than the symptoms of the initial infection. Reactivation may occur rapidly or many years after the initial infection. (See also Overview of Viral Infections Overview of Viral Infections A virus is composed of nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA, surrounded by a protein coat. It requires a living cell in which to multiply. A viral infection can lead to a spectrum of symptoms from... read more .)
Treatment of Herpesvirus Infections
Some antiviral medications Antiviral drugs A virus is composed of nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA, surrounded by a protein coat. It requires a living cell in which to multiply. A viral infection can lead to a spectrum of symptoms from... read more have been developed to treat one or more herpesvirus infections.