late 14c., "inflammatory, spreading skin condition" (used of shingles, gangrene, etc.), from Latin herpes "a spreading skin eruption," from Greek herpes, the name for the disease shingles, literally "creeping," from herpein "to creep" (cognate with Latin serpere "to creep;" see serpent). The condition was not distinguished into specific diseases until early 19c.
herpes her·pes (hûr'pēz)
Any of several viral diseases causing the eruption of small blisterlike vesicles on the skin or mucous membranes, especially herpes simplex or herpes zoster.
Any of several infections caused by the herpes simplex virus of the genus Simplexvirus or by the varicella-zoster virus, a herpes virus of the genus Varicellavirus. Herpes infections are characterized by painful blisters on the skin or a mucous membrane and are highly contagious. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. Varicella-zoster infection is also called shingles.
A group of related diseases and the viruses that cause them. These diseases are marked by the development of blisterlike sores on the skin or mucous membranes of the body. The herpes virus may invade the mouth region, producing fever blisters or cold sores, or may cause a sexually transmitted disease in which the painful sores appear on the genitals. Chicken pox is another disease caused by a herpes virus.
Note: After an infection, the virus remains dormant and may return at a later time. Shingles, for example, is a recurrence of the chicken pox virus, and outbreaks of genital herpes recur over time.