• Test Code:
  • Department:
  • Test Synonyms:
    Qualitative HSV with subtypingHSV-1HSV-2
  • CPT Code(s):

HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections occur worldwide and are well known etiologic agents of gingivostomatitis, conjunctivitis, keratitis, herpetic whitlow, genital infections, as well as encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, atypical pneumonias, and a wide variety of other clinical conditions. The etiologic agent is a double-stranded DNA virus of the Herpesviridae family that can be detected by viral culture, PCR, and/or direct antigen detection. HSV DNA PCR is the preferred diagnostic test for CNS specimens, since HSV will rarely grow from CSF in cell culture. Because of its exquisite sensitivity, PCR is also an effective method to detect the presence of the virus in non-CSF samples that may be culture-negative.


Extraction of viral DNA from plasma, CSF, and/or swabs, followed by PCR amplification of the HSV glycoprotein B gene and detection using real-time PCR.  HSV-1 is distinguished from HSV-2 by differential melting temperatures of the PCR products.  An internal control is added to ensure efficient extraction and PCR.  The limit of detection for this assay is 2 molecules of viral DNA per PCR reaction for HSV-1 and HSV-2.

Specimen Requirements:

  • CSF (minimum 0.5 ml); deliver to lab (ambient) within 8 hours of collection; or freeze and transport frozen.
  • Blood: one 5 mL purple (EDTA) or yellow (ADC) tube; deliver to lab (ambient; unspun) within 4 hours (for separation into plasma).
  • Plasma: spin within 4 hours of phlebotomy and freeze and transport to laboratory frozen.
  • Swabs (in viral transport media): Transport to lab at room temp.

Pediatric Minimums:

  • CSF: 200µL
  • Plasma: 200µL
  • Swabs in viral media: 200µL of fluid

A REQUISITION FORM MUST ACCOMPANY ALL SAMPLES.  Please include detailed clinical information.

Test Performed (Days):

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Turn Around Time:

0-3 Days

Shipment Sensitivity Requirements:

  • Package and ship swab specimens to remain cold, but not frozen. 
  • Package frozen specimens in dry ice. 
  • Contact Client Services at (855) 535-1522 for shipping supplies and instructions. 
  • Ship via overnight express, using the FedEx priority overnight label provided.


Additional Info:

The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University is a pioneer in the field of precision cancer medicine. The institute's director, Brian Druker, M.D., helped prove it was possible to shut down just the cells that enable cancer to grow. This breakthrough has made once-fatal forms of the disease manageable and transformed how cancer is treated. The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center between Sacramento and Seattle – an honor earned only by the nation's top cancer centers. It is headquarters for one of the National Cancer Institute's largest research collaboratives, SWOG, in addition to offering the latest treatments and technologies as well as hundreds of research studies and clinical trials.

Learn More