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    Herpes viral culture of lesion

    Culture - herpes simplex virus; Herpes simplex virus culture

    Herpes viral culture of a lesion is a laboratory test to check if a skin sore is infected with the herpes simplex virus.

    See also:

    • Genital herpes
    • Herpes labialis (cold sores)
    • Serum herpes simplex antibodies

    How the Test is Performed

    A sample from a skin lesion (often a genital sore) or blister is needed. The health care provider will collect the sample during an active outbreak and place it in a laboratory container. The sample must include cells, not just fluid from the blister, because the virus is in the skin cells of the blister or ulcer.

    At the laboratory, the sample is placed in a special dish and watched for the growth of the herpes simplex virus, or substances related to the virus. Special tests may also be done to determine whether it is herpex simplex virus type 1 or 2.

    Results are available within 16 hours to 7 days (usually 2-4 days), depending on the laboratory method used.

    How to Prepare for the Test

    The sample must be collected during the worst part of an outbreak. This is considered the acute phase of infection.

    How the Test Will Feel

    When the sample is collected, you may feel an uncomfortable scraping or sticky sensation. Sometimes a sample from the throat or eyes is needed. This involves rubbing a sterile swab against the eye or in the throat.

    Why the Test is Performed

    The test is done to confirm herpes simplex infection. The diagnosis is often made by physical examination (the health care provider looking at the sores), and the cultures and other tests are used to confirm that diagnosis.

    Normal Results

    A normal (negative) result means that the herpes simplex virus did not grow in the laboratory dish and the skin sample used in the test did not contain any herpes virus.

    However, a normal (negative) culture does not guarantee that you do not have a herpes infection or have not had one in the past.

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    An abnormal (positive) result may mean that you have an active infection with herpes simplex virus. Herpes infections include herpes genitalis, which is genital herpes, or cold sores on the lips or in the mouth.

    If the culture is positive for herpes, you may have recently become infected or you may have become infected in the past and are currently having an outbreak.

    Risks

    Risks include slight bleeding or infection in the area where the skin sample was removed.

    Considerations

    The viral culture for herpes test is most likely to be accurate when a person is newly infected (during the first outbreak).

    References

    Schiffer JT, Corey L. Herpes simplex virus. In: Kronenberg HM, Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 136.

    Usatine RP, Tinitigan R. Nongenital herpes simplex virus. Am Fam Physician. 2010 Nov 1;82(9):1075-82.

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    • Viral lesion culture

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      • Viral lesion culture

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        Tests for Herpes viral culture of lesion

        Review Date: 9/19/2011

        Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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