Herpes virus takes strange paths
I am very disappointed in a recent column about getting herpes from a toilet seat. The herpes simplex virus does not live outside the body and needs direct skin-to-skin contact to spread. It is impossible to get it from a toilet seat.
A recent study found that one in four people had genital herpes, but only 12 percent knew they were infected. That means the majority had no clue that they had it and could spread it. Most people attributed their symptoms to some other problem.
Medical wisdom maintains that a clean, dry toilet seat cannot transmit herpes or any other infection to intact skin. But not all toilet seats are clean and dry.
Several readers, like this one, contacted us to insist they contracted infections from gym equipment or unsanitary facilities: "At my gym there are many men and women who are models with great bodies. Quite a few of these people have herpes from being promiscuous.
"These men shave their legs, arms, underarms, butts and even pubic hair at the gym in the shower. You said intact skin and a dry toilet seat are safe. But you don’t have that in many health clubs. Shaving is an abrasive action and often produces bleeding. I have seen guys shave and jump out of the shower and use the toilet.
"I am a power-lifter and do squats with as much weight as possible. Sometimes I shave from my knees to my thighs to tape my thighs before working out. One day I showered and dried off and went to the toilet, but the seat was wet. I took a towel and wiped it, but a few weeks later I had a rash. My doctor diagnosed it as herpes and prescribed Valtrex. The rash was gone in three days.
"I have been married for 25 years to my high-school sweetheart and have never even considered cheating on her. How could I explain this? Luckily my doc asked us a lot of very personal questions and said it was very likely I got it from the gym."