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Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Test Catalogue

Herpes Simplex Virus / Varicella Zoster Virus PCR

Cerebrospinal Fluid

Clinical Microbiology

​Ordering Recommendations

  • ​Detection and identification of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and/or Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
  • Should only be requested if there is a strong suspicion of HSV and/or VZV infection based on clinical and other diagnostic findings
  • If CSF parameters (glucose, protein, white cell count) are all found to be normal, this test will be CANCELLED by the laboratory, unless:
    • The patient is ≤ 24 mo of age
    • The patient is immunocompromised
    • Testing has been approved by the Microbiologist-on-call

​Specimen Requirements​

  • ​Lumbar puncture
  • AV reservoir
  • AV shunt
  • Ventricular fluid
  • Lumbar drain fluid
​Collection Procedure
​Required Volume
  • Optimal Volume: 2.0 mL
  • Minimum Volume: 0.5 mL
    (Submitting the minimum volume makes it impossible to repeat the test or perform confirmatory/reflex testing. In some situations, a minimum volume may require a second collection)
  • Refrigerate at 2 to 8°C
  • Do not freeze                                                                          
Grounds for Rejection​

Testing Information​ ​

Testing Site​
  • ​RUH
Results Reporting​
  • ​Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) for detection of viral DNA
​Clinical Interpretation
  • ​Test will discriminate between HSV Type 1 and HSV Type 2
  • Report will indicate which HSV type has been detected
  • Qualitative assay only and will not provide any indication of viral load
  • False negative results may occur if testing is performed too early or too late in the course of the disease
  • A positive result does not exclude the possible presence of other microbial pathogens
​Specimen Retention
  • ​14 days
​Alternate Test Names
  • Herpes encephalitis
  • HSV-1 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1)
  • HSV-2 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type-2)
  • VZV Zoster
​Additional Comments
  • ​Test developed and validated by the Molecular Microbiology Laboratory
​SHR LIS Test Code
  • ​VZPCR (For Laboratory Use Only)

Test Ordering Requirements​

Forms Required


​If you choose to print this information, it is valid only on date of print.

Laboratory Controlled Document LSM-295 v2

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 2, 2016 |
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