An American science writer is using Anne of Green Gables to make a point about how common oral herpes is, and to ease some of the stigma of having it.

'A spot on her lip stung . . . probably a horrible cold-sore was coming on it.'— Anne of Ingleside

There is a clear reference to Anne having herpes in Anne of Ingleside. Maggie Koerth-Baker, science editor at boingboing.net  launched a discussion of herpes, cold sores, to show just how common it is (close to 60 per cent of American adults have it, she writes).

Koerth-Baker said some felt it suggested a loss of innocence.

"Other people were of course accusing Gilbert of giving it to her," she said.

"It has nothing to do with whether you are a good person or not. If anything it is probably something she picked up from Marilla."

Koerth-Baker noted in her article that people generally pick up oral herpes at a young age, probably through kisses from their parents.

She said she was merely trying to show that the virus was so common that even the fictional character Anne of Green Gables had it.