The presence, frequency, and relationship of ocular and oral shedding of herpes simplex virus to previous herpes keratitis was investigated. This was to determine if a history of herpes keratitis predisposes to shedding of the herpes simplex virus into the tear film and/or mouth. Swabs were collected from the eyes and mouth of two groups of patients thrice weekly over a two- to four-month period. Group A comprised nine patients with a history of herpes labialis, group B 15 patients with a history of herpes keratitis. Herpes simplex virus type 1 was isolated from 1.33% of mouth specimens but was not identified in any of the ocular specimens. There was no significant difference between groups A and B in terms of ocular or oral shedding. Oral shedding appears to be independent of a previous herpes keratitis. The tear film is an unlikely source of virus in persons either with no history of herpes keratitis or between attacks in those patients with a history of previous herpes keratitis.
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