Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes-one and herpes-two viruses. Symptoms include a recurring rash with blisters forming on the vagina, cervix, penis, mouth, and anus. Other symptoms include pain and discomfort around the infected area, itching, burning sensations while urinating, swollen glands in the groin, fever, headache, and a run-down feeling. When the blisters are completely healed, the active phase of the infection is over, but the herpes virus never leaves the body. It retreats into the nervous system and lies dormant, but can flare up at anytime. The recurrence of the sores may be related to emotional, physical, or health stresses. Herpes is spread through touching, sexual intimacy, kissing, as well as vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse. The period when individuals are most contagious is when the sores first appear, until the sores have completely healed and the scabs have fallen off. Always use a condom when having sex with an infected partner. Herpes may cause miscarriages or stillbirths. Herpes can be passed to a baby during childbirth if the virus is present in the mother’s birth canal near the time of delivery, resulting in serious health damage, developmental disabilities, and death. For this reason, a caesarean section is sometimes necessary. To prevent the spread of herpes from person to person, and from one part of the body to another, hands should be washed frequently and sores should not be touched. For more information, contact a health care professional.

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