Herpesviruses occur in an impressively wide range of animals and are associated with various diseases. The numerous routes taken during hundreds of millions of years of evolution have contributed to their striking adaptability and success as pathogens. Herpesviruses share a distinct virion structure and are classified taxonomically into a single order, the Herpesvirales, which is divided into three families. The phylogenetic relationships among members of the most populous family, the Herpesviridae, which includes all nine human herpesviruses, are generally similar to those among their hosts, supporting the view that there has been a large degree of coevolution between virus and host. Three human herpesviruses (human cytomegalovirus, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, and herpes simplex virus type 1) are classed as agents capable of sexually transmissible infection (StxI), and one (herpes simplex virus type 2) as an agent capable of sexually transmitted infection (STI). The evolutionary characteristics of these viruses are described.
© 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.