Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Infectious Diseases and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Herpes simplex virus infections among rural residents in eastern China

Haijiang Lin12, Na He1*, Meifang Su3, Jifu Feng2, Li Chen1 and Meiyang Gao1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Fudan University; Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety (Fudan University), Ministry of Education, PR China

2 Taizhou City Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Zhejiang Province, PR China

3 Yuhuan County Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Zhejiang Province, PR China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:69  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-69

Published: 18 March 2011



Herpes simplex virus (HSV) has two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both infect epithelial cells and establish latent infections in neurons causing an infection that persists for life. Information on age- and gender-specific seroprevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 is valuable for understanding HSV transmission dynamics and designing population-based prevention and intervention programs for HSV. However, such information is not available for China.


Cryopreserved serum samples of all subjects aged 5 to 60 years from two randomly selected rural villages in Zhejiang province in Eastern China who had participated in the China national seroepidemiological survey of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection conducted in 2006 were tested. Seroprevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections were determined by type-specific IgG antibody tests using an ELISA technique. Their 95% confidence intervals adjusted for the sampling fraction were calculated according to the Clopper-Pearson method.


A total of 2,141 residents participated in the survey, with a response rate of 82.3%. HSV-1 seroprevalence was 92.0% overall, 89.1% for males and 94.2% for females. HSV-1 seroprevalence was 61.6% among children aged 5-9 years, 90.3% among 25-29 years, and nearly 100% among those aged > = 40 years. HSV-2 seroprevalence was 13.2% overall, 10.5% for males and 15.3% for females. No children aged 5-14 years were HSV-2 positive, and HSV-2 seroprevalence was 7.1% among 15-19 years and peaked at 24.3% among those aged 45-49 years. Neither HSV-1 nor HSV-2 infections were significantly different by gender. About 11.8% of study subjects were co-infected with both types of HSV. Among 549 participating couples, 8.6% were HSV-1 serodiscordant and 11.8% were HSV-2 serodiscordant. No one tested positive for HIV. The overall prevalence of HBsAg was 16.2%, 16.9% for males and 15.4% for females.


HSV-1 was highly prevalent among all rural residents aged between 5-60 years in Eastern China, whereas HSV-2 was prevalent among sexually active people. HSV-1 and HSV-2 have different transmission modes and dynamics. Future HSV prevention and control programs in China should be type specific.

Seroprevalence; Herpes simplex virus; Hepatitis B virus; Community residents; Eastern China