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Complications of Genital Herpes Infection

If the herpes simplex virus (HSV) invades a part of the body other than the genital area, it may cause disease in that part of the body. Complications are generally rare and usually occur with the first-time (primary) genital herpes outbreak. Some of these complications include:

  • Meningitis, an infection of the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) and tissues (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord.
  • Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that is usually the result of a viral infection.
  • Inflammation of the lower spinal cord and surrounding nerves, possibly resulting in an inability to urinate, constipation, and loss of feeling and muscle strength in the legs.
  • Widespread infection, including viral infections of the liver, lungs, and joints. This mostly occurs in people who have impaired immune systems.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease
Last Revised December 21, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 21, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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