HUNTSVILLE, Ark. — Janet Garrison, a herpetologist with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, recently suffered a devastating viral outbreak on her upper lip. Caused by the herpes simplex virus, the outbreak manifested as a dense cluster of cold sores – swollen, red blisters around the mouth.
“The current flare up, while unsightly, has not adversely affected Garrison’s work,” said Dr. Andy Hamblin, Director of Wildlife Management for the AGFC. “Everything we do here is a team effort and the team has really come together to keep her at arm’s length.”
According to colleagues, Garrison’s oral herpes had been under control for several years. Her last major flare up, according to an anonymous source, was in the summer of 2009 after a brief trip to Tallahassee, Fla.
The new outbreak, however, has sent the agency’s most experienced herpetologist into seclusion on weekends.
“It’s not the kind of thing you can cover with some lipstick and foundation,” said one colleague, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Most people won’t even make eye contact.”
Varying reports claim the outbreak resembles either the mottled belly of a juvenile speckled king snake or the dappled snout of an Eastern Hognose.
Garrison is the Game & Fish Commission’s senior snake researcher. She holds a Ph.D. in herpetology from LSU, where she was likely first infected. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists the LSU campus as a ‘hot zone’ for herpes transmission.