What are Herpesviruses?

Herpesviruses belong to the family called Herpesviridae. They are large enveloped double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses of which eight members have humans as the natural host. The name is derived from the Greek word herpein (“to creep”), that reflects the latent flowing of such diseases. Average 90% of adult people have the latent form of one of 5 virus species: HSV-1 and HSV-2, varicella zoster virus, Epstein–Barr virus, and cytomegalovirus. Regarding this, we created Herpes simplex science animation.

Herpes simplex science animation

Let’s talk about Herpes simplex.

The most widespread are Herpes simplex viruses (HSV). They are categorized into two types. HSV-1 stands for orofacial herpes, and HSV-2 is for genital herpes, but sometimes HSV-1 is associated with genital diseases too. That’s why herpes simplex 1 also called “cold sore” and a public name of herpes simplex 2 is “herpes”. According to the World Health Organization, 67% of the world population under the age of 50 are infected with herpes simplex 1.


HSV-1 infection can happen from general oral-to-oral interactions such as kissing, sharing lip balms or eating from the same plate. There is a possibility to get genital herpes from HSV-1 if someone who performed oral sex had cold sores at that moment. HSV-2 is transmitted during sex, through contact with genital surfaces, skin, sores or fluids of someone infected with the virus. In rare circumstances, both HSV 1 & 2 infection can be transmitted from a mother to her infant during delivery.

What are the signs and symptoms?

It is a long-term condition. However, many people never have symptoms even though they are carrying the virus. Signs like blisters on the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth, lips, nose or genitals, ulcers, pain when urinating, cold sores, and vaginal discharge are seen too. In some cases, outbreaks are atypical and don’t have such symptoms.


Epithelial cell is the location, where the virus replicates, producing a vesicle. It follows the sensory nerves and establishes latency in the dorsal root ganglia. During a reactivated infection, the virus spreads distally from the ganglion to initiate new cutaneous and mucosal lesions.

Structure of the virus

To create a 3D prototype of the virus, we researched its structure. They have an unusual 4 layered structure: a core that contains the large, double-stranded DNA genome, which is enclosed by an icosapentahedral capsid. The capsid is composed of capsomers and is surrounded by the tegument, which is an amorphous protein coat encased in a glycoprotein-bearing lipid bilayer envelope.

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