Posted by: Jane M | June 18, 2013

The Tests and Examinations for Herpes – A Detailed Guide to Herpes Tests and Exams

HerpesThe tests and examinations for herpes are necessary to diagnose the presence of an infection and its type, whether it is HSV-1 or HSV-2. The most common symptoms of herpes are sores that appear on the mouth or on and around the genital area. It is, however, important that a proper diagnosis is made in order to facilitate treatment and to verify that these symptoms are in-fact indicative of a herpes simplex viral infection.

Examinations for Herpes

Most doctors begin with a general or physical exam where the blisters or sores are inspected. You can expect your doctor to ask you about your recent medical history and about your sex life, if sores appear on the vagina or penis. Your doctor will look for the most common symptoms of the condition, which include sores, swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue and muscle pain.

A closer look at the sores is necessary in order for the doctor to determine whether they are typical of a herpes infection or another kind of sexually transmitted disease (STD). The doctor will focus on examining your lymph nodes, as swelling will indicate that the body has recognized and is fighting an infection.

Tests for Herpes

Once your doctor has positively identified the sores as a herpes infection or another type of STD, a medical test will need to be performed in order to confirm this. The tests and examinations for herpes go hand in hand. There are four main types of tests for diagnosing an HSV infection, namely:

  1. A herpes viral culture test
  2. A virus antigen test
  3. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing
  4. Antibody testing

For the first three tests, a sample from a blister or sore is taken. The doctor takes some fluid and cells. The sample material is usually taken from newly formed sores as they are most likely to contain the virus. For the antibody test, the doctor will take a blood sample.

The herpes viral culture test is designed to identify the presence of the virus. The cell and fluid sample taken is placed in a special dish under special lab conditions. The lab technician watches the sample to determine whether the virus grows.

The herpes virus antigen test involves placing the cell and fluid sample under a microscope. The surface of the cells is examined for the present of specific markers called antigens, which indicate the presence of HSV.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is designed to identify the DNA of the virus present in the patient’s body. It is used to pinpoint whether HSV-1 or HSV-2 is present. This test is most commonly performed not on sore sample material, but on spinal fluid. This is done in case the doctor suspects the virus may affect the brain.

The antibody test for herpes is designed to identify antibodies produced by the immune system to battle the infection. It is also called a serology tests as it involves the testing of a blood sample for antibodies. The test may not be highly accurate in all cases as newly infected patients may not have produced the antibodies yet.

If you suspect that you may be infected with this virus, you must have the tests and examinations for herpes done as soon as possible, in order to receive adequate treatment.


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