The mere sound of the word is…


The virus that causes this disease is officially known as Herpes Simplex Virus or HSV. It gets its name from the Greek word meaning “to creep or crawl.” As anyone who has studied the virus can tell you, the name is fitting.

The virus likes to get into our skin and then cause a series of extremely painful blisters. To save you the shock of seeing the results of an unfiltered Google Image Search, here is a family-friendly example…

herpes(They feel worse than they look)

These blisters last for a few weeks and then go away. However, this isn’t the end of the infection. In fact, it’s only the beginning.

Herpes doesn’t just infect us and then go away like most viruses. It stays with us in a dormant state until one day it decides to wake up and cause those blisters all over again. For anyone who suffers from this disease, it’s like being trapped in a never-ending cycle of recurring pain.

Most herpes infections are limited to a few areas of the body including the genitals – thus the earlier warning of doing that image search – and the lips, which are better known as…

cold-sore(Cold sores)

But there is another place on the body where herpes has been found time and again. Again, to prevent that whole Google Image Search shock to a minimum, here’s a family friendly image describing where the virus attacks…

dendrite-1(The eye…) 

I know…I know…

what(It’s a natural response…)

Ocular herpes may sound horrific because it is. Not only does the virus do damage to the eye, it can also lead to several other problems including glaucoma and blindness. It’s relatively hard to treat and at the moment, there is no vaccine to prevent it.

In the United States alone, this infection affects tens of thousands of people each year. Some two-thirds of people will also have recurrences throughout their lifespan. The rates don’t seem to be declining either…

badsign(It’s actually rather worrisome)

Thankfully, the virus is one of the easiest to kill. Good hygiene practices such as washing hands before touching the eyes is the best way to keep the virus from causing a potentially life-long nightmare.

But hands may not be the only route of transmission. Last week, a new suspect was put into the spotlight…

vr-headset(The Virtual Reality Headset)

Apparently, people were catching this virus at trade shows and demo booths. The headsets were being passed from person to person without being cleaned in between. This sparked a major concern in the gaming community and eventually was picked up by the website Game Rant. You can read the entire article here: VR Headset Blamed for Ocular Herpes Outbreak

Although the actual route of transmission wasn’t discussed, you can imagine how this happened. An individual suffering from herpes infection handled the device, contaminating the headset and turning it into a carrier. Any subsequent use then led to a risk for infection.

Talk about making something literally, “go viral.”

(I had to…)

Before you decide never to use a VR headset, I should point out the Game Rant article was clear to state this outbreak was based on personal experience and not a scientific study. Yet, even without the involvement of the CDC or other public health authorities, the news does offer some perspective on the need for hygiene everywhere.

Should you decide to try out virtual reality at a show, demo, or other event, make sure it is clean before you use it. This is as easy as using a disinfectant wipe and waiting a minute before using the device. This will kill most pathogens, including herpes, making it safe for use. That way, you can be sure you will enjoy the virtual world without fear of dealing with a real-world viral problem.

If you want to learn more about ocular herpes, there is a great article reviewing the infection. You can find it here: Ocular herpes simplex: changing epidemiology, emerging disease patterns, and the potential of vaccine prevention and therapy.