Herpes originated 5,000 years ago when Bronze Age men and women began kissing kisses, the study claims.

It’s a problem that affects an estimated 3.7 billion people worldwide, and now scientists have uncovered the story—or better, the “kissing story”—of herpes.

Researchers from Cambridge university sequenced the ancient genomes of herpes, a virus that commonly causes sores on the lips.

Their results show that the strain of the virus behind facial herpes, as we know it, arose about 5,000 years ago, amid the emergence of “sexual-romantic kissing.”

Dr Christiana Scheib, co-author of the study, said: “Every primate species has a form of herpes so we assume it has been with us since our own species left Africa.”

“However, something happened about five thousand years ago that allowed one strain of herpes to overtake all others, perhaps an increase in transmission that could be associated with kissing.”

It’s a problem that affects an estimated 3.7 billion people worldwide, and now scientists have unraveled the story—or better, the “kissing story”—of herpes.

During the study, the team extracted viral DNA from the teeth of four people.  One specimen (pictured) was obtained from a young adult male from Holland and dated 1672.

During the study, the team extracted viral DNA from the teeth of four people. One specimen (pictured) was obtained from a young adult male from Holland and dated 1672.

Forget brushing your teeth… KISS is just as good, says dentist

Kissing can help keep teeth healthy and prevent bad breath, according to an orthodontist.

However, not any quick peck will do.

Dr. Khaled Kasem of Impress International Dental Network recommends kissing for four minutes a day.

“The main advantage of kissing is that more saliva is released in the mouth,” he said.

“Saliva is important because it helps you chew, taste, swallow, fight germs in your mouth, and prevent bad breath – which is definitely perfect for kissing.”

Saliva also neutralizes acids that remain on the teeth, helping to reduce the risk of cavities.

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The most common strain of the virus today is called HSV-1 and is usually transmitted through oral contact, such as kissing.

“Herpes causes the herpes simplex virus,” the NHS explains on its website.

“If you have a virus, it stays in your skin for the rest of your life. Sometimes it causes herpes.

“Most people are exposed to the virus when they are young, after close skin-to-skin contact, such as kissing, with someone who has herpes.”

While the herpes virus has been around for millions of years, the researchers set out to understand when the HSV-1 strain first emerged.

“The world has been watching the rapid mutations of COVID-19 for weeks and months. A virus like herpes evolves on a much larger time scale,” said Dr. Charlotte Houldcroft, co-author of the study.

“Facial herpes hides in its host for life and is transmitted only through oral contact, so mutations occur slowly, over centuries and millennia.

“We need to do deep research over time to understand how these DNA viruses evolve.

“Before, the genetic data for herpes was only from 1925.”

During the study, the team extracted viral DNA from the teeth of four people.

The oldest specimen is about 1500 years old and was obtained from an adult male excavated in the Urals in Russia.

The other dates from the 6th and 7th centuries AD and is descended from a woman in an early Anglo-Saxon cemetery near Cambridge.

One specimen dates from the late 14th century and comes from a young adult male buried on the grounds of the Cambridge Benevolent Hospital.

One specimen dates from the late 14th century and comes from a young adult male buried on the grounds of the Cambridge Benevolent Hospital.

The third dates from the late 14th century and belongs to a young adult man buried on the grounds of the Cambridge Charitable Hospital.

Finally, one specimen was obtained from a young adult male from Holland and dated 1672.

After extracting the viral DNA, the researchers compared their results with herpes samples from the 20th century.

This allowed them to analyze the differences and estimate the rate of mutation and thus create a timeline for the evolution of the virus.

The findings suggest that HSV-1 first appeared about 5,000 years ago.

According to researchers, the earliest known record of kissing is in a Bronze Age manuscript from Southern China.

They suggest that this custom may have spread westward as humans migrated to Europe from Eurasia.

“The primary mode of transmission of HSV-1 is vertical, from parents to children,” the team wrote in their study, published in the journal Science Advances.

“However, the addition of lateral transmission as population density increased in the Bronze Age, potentially associated with the introduction of new cultural practices such as the emergence of sexual-romantic kissing, may have contributed to the shift in dominant lineages that has continued. circulate to this day.

While HSV-1 usually causes herpes in most people, it can be fatal when combined with other illnesses such as sepsis.

For example, in 2018two women have died from HSV-1 infection in the UK after a caesarean section.

The team now hopes to trace HSV-1 even further back in time.

“Neanderthal herpes is my next peak that I have to climb,” added Dr. Scheib.

What is herpes?

Herpes viruses cause cold sores, which most often appear on the lips or genitals. About seven out of ten people in the UK are infected with the virus.

However, only one in three experiences symptoms.

In the US, about half of young people are infected with the virus that causes herpes around the mouth.

One in eight has the genital herpes virus.

Cold sores on the lips are most often transmitted by kissing a person with active herpes.

They start out as a small red spot that bubbles and then bursts, leaving scabs.

Herpes that appears on the face is most often caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1.

Type 2 mainly affects the genitals.

Herpes rarely spreads beyond the place where it first appeared.

And they are only transmitted by direct skin contact, not by sharing items such as towels or eating utensils.

Oral sex is a common way of transferring herpes from a person’s mouth to another person’s genitals, or vice versa.

After infection, patients may initially experience fever and flu-like symptoms.

Herpes can reappear if triggered by stress, illness, alcohol, or too much sunlight.

This is because the virus remains in the nerve junction near the spinal cord.

Many feel itching, tingling, or shooting pain before the cold sore reappears.

Antivirals may be prescribed if someone suffers from flare-ups frequently.

Moisturizing ulcers can prevent them from cracking and soreness.

Source: Herpes Virus Association.