Test Code: HSVAb Preferred Name Herpes Virus antibodies

< 1 hour
1 day
Medicare Item

Test Tubes

ImageSpecimen TypeSpecimen VolumeTube Type
Blood (adult)8 mLSST with gel 8.5 mL (Dark Yellow Top)
Blood (paediatric)1 mL2x SST with gel 600 uL Paed (Red or Yellow top)


Herpes Serology can be unreliable therefore viral detection via one of the following specimens is recommended:

1. CSF (Herpes Encephalitis)
2. Viral Transport Swab of vesicle material (cold sore or disseminated herpes)
3. Viral Transport Swab of corneal or conjuntival specimens (herpes kerato-conjuntivitis)


Application: Very limited usefulness in the diagnosis of primary oral or genital herpes. If testing is indicated clinically, viral antigen detection is the preferred test (see Herpes PCR).

Interpretation: A four-fold rise in titre between acute and convalescent samples supports the diagnosis of primary herpes infection. Antigenic cross reactivity occurs between HSV-1 and HSV-2. Recurrent infections often do not stimulate a significant increase in antibody titre. Viral culture and direct antigen detection performed on vesicle fluid or material scraped from the base of a vesicle/ulcer are more rapid and reliable methods to diagnose both primary and recurrent HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. Antibody testing has not been of value in herpes encephalitis, although the presence of IgM antibodies in CSF may support a presumptive diagnosis. Virus Detection (HSV PCR)is the preferred test for the diagnosis of HSV encephalitis.

Reference: Arvin AM and Prober CG. In: Murray PR et al eds. Manual of Clinical Microbiology, 6th ed. ASM Press 1995. Nahmias AJ et al. J Infect Dis 1982; 145: 829-836.

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