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Hello. The virus that causes genital herpes (HSV2) typically stays with us all our lives. It can re-activate at any time, but often does so under periods of stress or other illnesses.
In other words, she may have picked it up in her youth and it is just now re-activating because of a drop in her immune defenses.
How was it diagnosed?
Yes, I know that but she has NEVER had this before. This is the first time. Her vagina and cervix are both swollen and she has open sores, some large, all around her vagina and anus. It is extremely painful for her and the hospital only gave her some antiseptic and analgesic cream to use. No viral inhibitors or other medicine.
If you want to confirm the diagnosis, ask her doctor to culture fluid from one of the lesions.
If positive, ask him to put her on acyclovir or pencyclovir. This can suppress viral replication and may speed up her recovery.
And supposing that it is confirmed, how has she got this?
One can pick up the virus when young and have it hang around silently in the tissues. It can then "erupt" many years later.
Thank you for those names of medicines. Do you think that the hospital are waiting result of swab taken today before prescribing these medicines, even though the doctor was very sure about the diagnosis?
Yes, they probably want to have confirmation before exposing her to another medication...though these antivirals are usually very well tolerated.
Thank you. Should we use seperate towels etc? This is my last question!
The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids (including weeping sores), so it would make sense to use "fluid precautions" and avoid sharing towels. Wear gloves and wash all linens and clothing in how water until the lesions scab over and there are no new lesions coming up.
Thank you Dr Bob. You have been brilliant!