Pharyngitis associated with herpes simplex virus in college students

Julia A. McMillan, Leonard B. Weiner, Anne Marie Higgins, Vincent J. Lamparella

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58 Scopus citations


During a 16-month period patients who presented to the Syracuse University Health Center with upper respiratory complaints had throat swabs obtained for viral, streptococcal and Mycoplasma pneumoniae cultures. Thirty-five of 613 patients (5.7%) had herpes simplex virus (HSV) isolated. All but 2 of the HSV isolates were found to be type 1 by immunofluorescent staining. Two HSV-positive patients also grew Group A Streptococcus, one grew M. pneumoniae and three had serum heterophile antibody tests that were positive. On physical examination 25 of the 35 HSV-positive patients had pharyngeal erythema and 14 had pharyngeal exudate. Twelve of these patients had vesicular lesions of the lips, throat or gums associated with their other symptoms. For 29 of the 35 HSV-positive students the primary diagnosis assigned was pharyngitis, for 2 the diagnosis was stomatitis and the remainder were assigned a primary diagnosis of upper respiratory infection, pneumonia, bronchitis or dental infection. Thirty-two of the 35 HSV-positive patients were treated with oral antibiotics and 7 were treated with oral or topical acyclovir. During the same 16-month period 89 (6.9%) of 1297 students presenting with sore throat were culture-positive for influenza A or B, 30 (2.3%) of 1283 were culture-positive for M. pneumoniae and 169 (2.8%) of the 6016 cultured for Group A Streptococcus were positive. Serum was tested for heterophile antibody in 2438 students, and 257 (10.5%) were positive. Herpes simplex virus is associated with pharyngeal symptoms in college students, and herpes simplex pharyngitis cannot easily be distinguished clinically from other causes of acute pharyngitis in this age group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-284
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1993


  • Herpes simplex
  • college students
  • pharyngitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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