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Apr 25, 2017 12:13 PM EDT

Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research partnered with the Institut für Virologie of the Freie Universität Berlin to challenge the idea that the herpes virus becomes unstable outside its host. Surprisingly, the experts proved that the previous belief is not true at all.

In fact, per Vet Times, the researchers found that herpes virus remains active under different conditions for up to three weeks. Also, it is still infectious even after being transferred to the water. Thus, it appears that the virus is very stable and more dangerous than how people saw it before.

Commonly, enveloped viruses cause disease when spread from host to host through an aerial transmission. Beforehand, experts thought that herpes was unstable and requires rapid and direct transfer among humans and animals in order to survive. Now, even without the help of live hosts, the virus poses threats.

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With pH and temperature as the two most important factors that kept the virus alive and infectious, the study claims that herpes may highly likely become part of the environmental "virome". Horsey herpes, for example, could have spread to other mammals such as polar bears and rhinos without direct contact. For one, shared water may be a source and vector of contagion.

Surprisingly, the addition of soil to water seemed to "pull" the virus out of the latter and stabilize it in the soil. This means that in "natural water bodies", viruses may persist for an extended time without infecting another victim. Thus, in the case of the horsey herpes, other animals could have been infected via water long after the animal that shed the virus had left the area.

On the other hand, according to Refinery 29, there is still no cure for herpes. Unfortunately, if someone gets it, he or she will have a lifelong infection. Nevertheless, it is manageable. For the record, about one in six Americans have genital herpes.

The first exposure to the virus results in fever, headache, and flu-like muscle pains. Blisters also appear in the person's genital area. This type of infection is called "primary". The doctor just gives the patient a combination of physical exam and a secondary test.

However, if that person gets one after that, the virus is now called "recurrent". The most effective way to keep the infection under control is through antiviral drugs. Valacyclovir (Valtrex) is the most common, aside from famciclovir and acyclovir.

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