Herpes: A Death Sentence?

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herpes complications

In a survey 87% of respondents did not know that the Herpes virus (HSV-1) can cause a severe, sometimes fatal inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis.

Many people don’t know that the common herpes virus (HSV-1) can kill.

One way the virus can kill is by causing an inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis (1). The virus can also cause “personality changes, seizures, weakness, and other symptoms depending on the part of the brain affected (1).” HSV-1 is best known for causing cold sores and fever blisters.

WebMD reports that “Herpes simplex type 1 virus is one of the more common and serious causes of viral encephalitis. Herpes-related encephalitis can erupt rapidly, and may cause seizures or mental changes and even lead to coma or death. It occurs when the herpes simplex type 1 virus travels to the brain rather than moving through the body to the surface of the skin and producing its more common symptom, a cold sore (1).”

brain encephalitis

In addition, Patient.co.uk says in a page last updated on August 2010 that “Untreated herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) is progressive and often fatal within 7-14 days. There is a 70% mortality rate in untreated patients and more than half of the untreated survivors have severe neurological deficits (2).” However, even among treated patients, at least 19% still die (2). In addition, even with early administration of therapy, nearly two thirds of survivors will have significant residual neurological deficits (2).

“I’ve gotten fever blisters since I was a kid. But, nobody ever told me my brain could swell up and I could die from the same virus!” – Earl B. (New York)

Certain populations are at a higher risk of developing herpes related encephalitis. These populations include “Children, the elderly, and those with a weak immune system (1).”

The bottom line?

The CDC estimates that, annually, 776,000 people in the United States get new herpes infections (3). A number of these could end up with encephalitis caused by the herpes virus. That means there are a lot of people, especially those in a higher risk group, that should seek an effective remedy that can help their immune systems target the latent virus.


(1) WebMD.com – Understanding Encephalitis — The Basics. Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 03, 2015

(2) Patient.co.uk – Tidy, C. “Herpes Simplex Encephalitis” – Last Checked:

(3) CDC.gov -Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet – Page last updated: July 1, 2014

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