Mater Pathology

Herpes Simplex Virus testing now performed by Mater Pathology

August 4, 2011

Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV 1), Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV 2) and Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) are all members of the Herpesviridae family.

Herpes viruses cause life-long infections. Clinically these viruses can manifest as ‘cold sores’ (primarily infection with HSV1, usually acquired during childhood) or as the sexually transmitted infection, genital herpes (primarily infection with HSV2—however HSV1 is emerging as the cause of half of new genital herpes cases in some developed countries). Primarily a childhood infection, VZV causes the disease chickenpox. VZV then becomes dormant in the nervous system. In later life the VZV can reactivate and cause shingles (also referred to as herpes zoster).

The Microbiology Molecular section of the Mater Pathology laboratory began testing swabs (eg. skin, mouth, vesicle, eye, genital, perianal and corneal scraping swabs) at the end of June. The laboratory extracts the nucleic acids by chemical purification and uses a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to ensure a very sensitive and accurate result. The PCR incorporates specific primers to detect the HSV 1, HSV 2 or VZV and this is a highly reproducible, rapid and labour efficient method for HSV/VZV detection. The real time PCR enables laboratory staff to provide rapid results to ensure effective clinical management.

The introduction of this service has improved turnaround times and has ensured a more streamlined service. This new PCR test adds to the growing repertoire of molecular tests done by Mater Pathology.

To order this test please request HSV/VZV PCR on a dry swab or swab in viral transport medium, collected from the base of the vesicle.

For further information, please contact:

Microbiology Laboratory, Mater Pathology
07 3163 8168