Diagnostic Test Directory

Virology Laboratory

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) PCR - eye specimen

  • LIS Mnemonic: HSVPCR


    Conjunctival swab in viral transport medium

    Volume Required


    Minimum Required



    Keep specimen at 4C


    CONJUNCTIVAL SWABS should be taken by stroking the lower conjunctival sac of the eye 5-6 times with a rayon or Dacron tipped, plastic or metal shafted swab to obtain epithelial cells. To facilitate binding of the cellular material to the swab, the swab can be premoistened with sterile saline. Be certain to express the excess liquid from the swab before attempting to collect the specimen. After specimen collection, place swab into tube of viral transport medium. Corneal swabs, tear samples, aqueous humor, vitreous humor, corneal biopsy, and retinal biopsy specimens are also acceptable, depending on the type of eye involvement.

    Unacceptable conditions

    Swab specimens not received in viral transport medium or received in bacteriological transport medium are discouraged. DO NOT USE CALCIUM ALGINATE OR WOODEN SHAFT SWABS FOR COLLECTION OF SPECIMENS; ONLY USE DACRON OR RAYON TIPPED SWABS ON PLASTIC OR METAL SHAFTS.

Days Performed



Same day

Reflex Testing





Amplification and detection of HSV DNA polymerase gene using TaqMan real-time PCR technology. This test is performed pursuant to an agreement with Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.


If positive, results are reported as herpes simplex virus DNA detected

Reference Values

Negative or no herpes simplex virus DNA detected

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