Background and goal: The changing epidemiology of genital herpes with the increasing importance of herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 prompted a study on the relative prevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 among cases of genital herpes in the Tel Aviv area, Israel.
Study design: A retrospective laboratory-based study of positive genital and nongenital herpes cultures performed at the Beilinson Medical Center between 1993 and 2002. Data regarding the number of isolates of each type and the age and sex of patients with genital lesions were retrieved from the database. Cultures were performed using Vero cells, and positive results were confirmed and typed by immunofluorescence.
Results: A total of 285 positive genital cultures and 659 positive nongenital cultures were recorded. HSV-1 was identified in 189 (66.3%) of the positive genital specimens and in 656 (99.55%) of the nongenital specimens. HSV-1 was isolated in 174 of 262 (66.4%) female subjects and 15 of 23 (65.2%) male subjects. The proportion of HSV-1 genital isolates was 72.7% in patients 15 to 24 years of age, 62% in those 25 to 44 years, and 46% in those aged 45 years or older. Overall, the annual isolation rate of genital HSV-1 has not changed markedly over the years.
Conclusion: Herpes simplex virus type 1 has clearly been the predominant HSV type isolated from genital specimens in the Tel Aviv area over the last decade.