Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Culture and Typing

Test ID: 


CPT code:



Five- to Seven-day Herpesvirus Culture/Type
HSV Culture and Typing
Viral Culture, HSV
Virus Isolation, Herpes Simplex

Clinical Use:

A clinical diagnosis of HSV infection is based on identifying characteristic multiple vescicles on an erythematous base. HSV culture is useful in verifying HSV is present within the vesicles. Rapid culture allows for the initiation of therapy that may diminish the severity of symptoms and shorten the length of symptoms.

Test Information:

Infectious HSV is rarely present in CSF during encephalitis, resulting in a poor recovery by culture (<5% in adults, <50% in children). Studies have shown a >98% detection of HSV DNA in CSF by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and this method is now considered the standard for diagnosis of HSV encephalitis. For HSV PCR testing, please request test 138651. HSV is occasionally isolated from the CSF of patients with HSV-2 meningitis and of neonates with congenital herpes, and from urine of patients with primary genital HSV infections concurrent with cystitis.

Specimen Type:

Vesicular fluid, ulcerated lesions, pharyngeal and throat swabs, urine, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), autopsy and biopsy material, eye exudates, vaginal swabs

Requested Volume: 

Swab in viral transport media, 1 mL fluid, 0.5 g tissue in transport medium

Container Type: 

Serum or plasma: red-top tube or green-top (heparin) tube. Gel-barrier tubes are not recommended. Whole blood: Lavender-top (EDTA) tube, gray-top (sodium fluoride) tube, or green-top (heparin) tube


Submit one specimen per test requested. Specify the exact specimen source/origin (eg, genital lesion). Indicate a specific test number on the request form. Check expiration date of transport; do not use expired devices.

Specimen is best collected within the first three days after appearance of lesion but no more than seven days. After collection, remove cap from the transport media tube and insert swab aseptically into transport tube and break swab shaft. Replace cap so that swab will not interfere with closure and allow tube to leak. Label tube with patient identification and transport to the laboratory at 4°C.

Storage Instructions:


Stability Requirements:

Refrigerated      7 days

Rejection Criteria

Bacterial swab specimen; specimen received in grossly leaking transport container; dry specimen; specimen submitted in fixative or additive; specimen received in expired transport media or incorrect transport device; inappropriate specimen transport conditions; specimen stored or transported greater than seven days refrigerated; specimen stored or transported at room temperature; wooden shaft swab in transport device; unlabeled specimen or name discrepancy between specimen and test request label

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MCI Diagnostic

Providing top patient care with fast results. 

7018 South Utica Avenue

Tulsa, Oklahoma 74136

Hours of Operation

Mon – Sat: 7AM-11PM

Sun: 7AM-3PM

Government Contract

Mon – Sat: 7AM-11PM

Sun: 7AM-3PM


Mon – Sat: 7AM-11PM

Sun: 7AM-3PM

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