Reactivations of herpes simplex virus (HSV) either symptomatically (recrudescence) or without symptoms (recurrence) are well documented. As an asymptomatic reactivation may contribute to transmitting HSV to potential acceptors the frequency of reactivations should be evaluated. In order to evaluate the frequency of HSV-2 reactivation 173 genital swabs of a group of women chosen at random were analyzed by nested PCR. 34 (19.6%) showed clinical evidence of a herpes infection, 77 (44.5%) had no symptoms at all and 62 (35.8%) had other symptoms. In 26 (15%) HSV-DNA was detected. 11 (38.4%) could be characterized as asymptomatic reactivations. Typing of the HSV-positive swabs resulted in 11 HSV-2 and 10 HSV-1 strains. Additionally 18 HSV-positive swabs of the oral cavity resulted in 15 (83.2%) HSV-1 and 3 (16.4%) HSV-2 strains. The results of typing indicate a change of HSV-1 and HSV-2 epidemiology.

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