Isn’t it scary that many of us have inactive viruses looming inside our bodies waiting to be awakened? This is known as “Virus Latency” or the ability for a virus to lie dormant within a cell. This is a phase in the life cycle of many viruses that we come in contact with on a regular basis. In most cases, these latent viruses show no apparent symptoms and we are oblivious to their existence. However, these 5 dormant diseases are essentially one stimulus away from striking back.
Mononucleosis aka “Mono” or “The Kissing Disease” is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which is a type of the herpes virus. When an individual is exposed to the Mono virus, they don’t begin to show symptoms until after about 4 to 7 weeks. Since the virus is transmitted via saliva – be wary of sharing drinks, toothbrushes, or eating food off of the same plate even if those around you appear to be well. Remember, once you get Mono, the virus stays in your body for life. This doesn’t mean you will always be contagious, but it can resurface from time to time which would put others at risk.
2. Latent Tuberculosis Infection
There is a difference between a Latent tuberculosis infection and the tuberculosis disease. Latent TB occurs when a person has the TB bacteria within their body in only small amounts. The key here is the body’s immune system is able to fight the small TB infection. These individuals typically show no symptoms at all, and can only be diagnosed via the TB skin test. The good news is they are noninfectious and don’t carry the risk of spreading the disease. However, roughly 5-10% of the infected individuals will eventually develop the tuberculosis disease.
3. Cold Sores
Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) is the viral disease that is known to cause cold sores. The virus gets its name from the Greek word “herpēs” which means “to creep or crawl.” With over 90% of Americans being exposed to this “creeping” virus, it is hard to avoid. There is no cure for HSV and it will remain in your body forever. Although when a virus is activated and the symptoms begin to show – they can be treated. Read more about the best ways to prevent and treat cold sores.
If you have ever had the chickenpox, this virus is already lurking inside of you. Shingles is an infection caused by the Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that is responsible for chickenpox. The signs and symptoms of the infection include:
- Increased skin sensitivity
- Painful red rashes
- Fluid-filled blisters
- Severe Itching
The good news is shingles is less contagious than chickenpox and can’t necessarily be passed from person to person. The bad news is the virus can spread from a person with shingles to someone who has never been exposed to the virus. These individuals may develop the chickenpox, but not shingles. At least not yet. Once you are infected with the virus (or had the chickenpox), you are susceptible to shingles at any moment. Recently, a new shingles vaccine was approved and released aiming to prevent new outbreaks.
5. HPV – Common Warts
If you were wondering if warts are contagious, ***Spoiler Alert*** humans get warts from other people with warts, not from touching frogs or toads. Warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus known as HPV which is estimated to infect 75% of all men and women. The virus infects the top layer of skin and there remains present in your system. Doctors have yet to find a cure for the virus, but your body does have the ability to fight it, in some cases in as little as two years. Nevertheless, with over 120 varieties of the HPV, your body may or may not completely reject the virus.
As you are reading this article right now, your body may be fighting a virus that you didn’t even know you had. Whether you experience the symptoms or not – just remember that these 5 dormant diseases might just be drifting around inside your body.
LowestMed’s Health Information Center is meant for educational purposes and is not intended for medical advice. If you would like to recommend any story ideas, feel free to contact us.