Test Overview
Test Methodology

Detection of specific viral agent in shell vial culture and confirmation of the viral isolate using monoclonal antibodies when appropriate.

Test Usage

Rule out or identify Herpes simplex (patients <3 days old, eye, or respiratory specimens) and Varicella zoster virus.

Reference Range *

Negative (no viral agents isolated from culture).

Test Limitations

A negative test does not rule out infection. The specimen must be taken at the appropriate time during infection, and properly stored and transported. If optimum conditions are not met, the viral agents may not be isolated in the presence of an infection.

Test Details
Days Set Up
Analytic Time

Negative cultures will be reported in 4-5 days. Positive cultures will be reported when they become positive.

Soft Order Code
MiChart Code
Viral Culture, HSV and VZV
  • Culture, Herpes simplex and Varicella zoster
  • Varicella zoster shell vial
  • Herpes simplex Culture
  • HSV Culture
  • Varicella zoster Culture
  • VZV Culture
  • Herpes simplex shell vial
Specimen Requirements

VZV culture will be performed. HSV culture is performed only for patients less than 3 days old, or for eye and respiratory specimens. For patients >=3 days old, anogenital, skin, or oral mucosa lesions, see Herpes simplex DNA, Types 1 & 2, Qualitative. Use dacron or rayon swab to obtain specimen and place into M4-RT transport medium. Refrigerate. Deliver to the laboratory as soon as possible. The possibility for virus isolation decreases as the length of storage time increases. Many viral agents will survive at room temperature for several hours; however, for optimum recovery of viruses, please refrigerate; do not freeze.

Normal Volume
1 swab
Minimum Volume
1 swab
Additional Information

Viral culture will not be routinely performed on CSF specimens. It is rare to isolate Herpes simplex virus (HSV) from CSF even when the patient has a positive brain biopsy. The recommended test for HSV in CSF is Herpes simplex Encephalitis Detection by PCR.

CPT Code
Fee Code
NY State Approved