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UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital

UW Hospital and Clinics Lab Test Directory

Test Name: Herpes Simplex by PCR


CPT Code(s): 87529

Test Description: Test Component:

Real-time PCR detection and typing for Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) -1 and HSV-2

Methodology: Real-Time PCR followed by Melting Point Analysis

Clinical Significance: Detect and genotype HSV-1 and HSV-2

Days Performed: Mon-Fri.

Turnaround Time: Stat: 1 - 2 days.
Routine: 2 - 3 days.

Specimen Requirements

Specimen: BAL, vesicle swab or fluid, genital lesion swab, mouth swab, biopsy, CSF, body fluid, eye fluid, blood

Collection Instructions: Blood- draw in lavender top tube.  Do not spin.

Biopsy/Tissue specimens- place in refrigerated M4 transport media, Room temperature M4 (M4RT) media, or UTM (Universal Transport Medium). Do not freeze tissue in medium.

CSF, BAL, eye fluid and other body fluids- place in a sterile screw cap container. Do not place fluids in UTM.

Vesicle swab, genital swab, mouth swab- place swab in refrigerated M4 transport media, Room temperature M4 (M4RT) media, or UTM (Universal Transport Medium).

Obtain UTM from UWHC Central Service.

Collect specimen within 3-4 days of onset of symptoms, but not more than 7 days. Calcium alginate, wooden and transport swabs containing gel should not be used. Use rayon or Dacron swabs instead. Do not sample crusted lesions.

Collection Container: Preferred: See collection instructions.

Collection Volume: Preferred: 6 mL
Pediatrics: 2 mL

Volume Required: Preferred: 3 mL
Pediatrics: 1.2 mL

Specimen Processing: Do not spin whole blood.

Specimen Transport: UTM or M4RT specimen may be transported at room temperature (tissue and swab only).

Unacceptable Criteria: Calcium alginate, wooden and transport swabs containing gel should not be used.  Dry specimens are not acceptable.

Stability: Ambient: 3 days
Refrigerated: 7 days
Frozen: 30 days; Do not freeze tissue or whole blood.


Expected Results:

Expected results: HSV not detected.


A negative result does not rule out the presence of PCR inhibitors in the patient specimen or HSV DNA concentrations below the level of detection by the assay. This assay detects and genotypes the virus, i.e. distinguishes between HSV-1 and HSV-2. In unusual cases, due to genotype variations or infection by a combination of more than one virus, a result of "Detected, genotype not determined" may be reported.


Test Limitations:

False negative results may be due to the suppression of viral replication to levels below the detection threshold, or to inhibitory substances present in the specimen.

Additional Information:

Available on weekends for CSF and ocular specimens only.


The performance characteristics of this test were validated by UWHC Clinical Laboratories. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved or cleared this test; however, FDA approval or clearance is currently not required for clinical use of this test. The results are not intended to be used as the sole means for clinical diagnosis or patient management decisions. The UWHC Clinical Laboratories is authorized under Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) to perform high-complexity testing.

Herpes, Herpes Simplex, HSV-1, HSV-2, Human herpesvirus 1, HHV 1, Human herpesvirus 2, HHV 2, Tzanck smear

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