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Hickeys Can Transmit Oral Herpes

July 1, 1987 GMT

BOSTON (AP) _ It seems that even a friendly hickey, that badge of adolescent ardor, can be mildly hazardous to one’s health.

In Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, doctors report the case of a young man who got a herpes infection from his girlfriend’s love bites.

″This case demonstrates that herpes simplex virus can be transmitted by direct inoculation and that even hickeys are not totally innocuous,″ wrote Dr. Nester C. del Rosario of Eastern Virginia Medical School.

The otherwise healthy 22-year-old went to the hospital complaining of an inch-wide, swollen, blistered, red spot on his neck. He’d had it for five days after his girlfriend gave him a hickey on that spot.

The doctors found that the red spot contained herpes simplex virus type 1. This is the variety of the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores and fever blisters. The other common variety, type 2, causes genital herpes.

″In our case, the infection was transmitted to the patient by his girlfriend, who had fever blisters at the time of the inoculation,″ they wrote.

The doctors said the herpetic hickey went away by itself within three weeks.