Epidemiology and Infection

An epidemiologic study of herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 infection in Japan based on type-specific serological assays

M. HASHIDO a1c1, F. K. LEE a2, A. J. NAHMIAS a2, H. TSUGAMI a3, S. ISOMURA a4, Y. NAGATA a5, S. SONODA a6 and T. KAWANA a7
a1 Infectious Diseases Surveillance Center, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Toyama 1-23-1, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162, Japan 1
a2 Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, U.S.A.
a3 Osaka Prefectural Bandai Clinic for STD, Osaka, Japan
a4 Department of Medical Zoology, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan
a5 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan
a6 Department of Virology, Kagoshima University School of Medicine, Kagoshima, Japan
a7 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Tokyo University Branch Hospital, Tokyo, Japan


A seroepidemiologic study of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2) was performed on Japanese adults. Serum samples collected between 1985–9 from a total of 536 healthy adults, female prostitutes, males with sexually transmitted diseases (STD), homosexual men, and pregnant women were studied by immunodot assays using HSV type-specific antigens, glycoproteins G (gG1 and gG2). HSV-1 infections correlated mostly with age and was widely prevalent among subjects <40 years. HSV-2 prevalence varied greatly among subgroups defined by sexual activity and was associated with risk behaviours for prostitution, infection with STD, and homosexual activity. HSV-2 seroprevalence was highest among prostitutes (80%), lowest among pregnant women (7 %), and intermediate in STD patients (23%) and homosexuals (24%). Because HSV-1 infection during childhood has been decreasing, primary genital HSV-2 infection, with its higher frequency of clinical manifestations, will become a greater burden to the public health in Japan.

(Accepted November 4 1997)

c1 Author for correspondence.


1 ‘Infectious Diseases Surveillance Center, National Institute of Infectious Diseases’ is the former ‘Department of Epidemiology, National Institute of Health’, Tokyo, Japan. (Changed on April 1, 1997).