Herpes simplex (HSV) – CSF

Consistent with O. Reg. 671/92 of the French Language Services Act, laboratory testing information on this page is only available in English because it is scientific or technical in nature and is for use only by qualified health care providers and not by members of the public.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

Herpes Simplex Virus

CSF-Cerebral Spinal Fluid1

1.0 ml

sterile container

Submission and Collection Notes


CSF samples will be tested by an in-house PCR method. Contact PHO Laboratory Customer Service Centre prior to submitting samples if you prefer testing by virus culture

Storage and Transport

Label the specimen container with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Special Instructions

Specimens should be stored at 2-8°C following collection and shipped to PHOL on ice packs.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Herpes virus PCR testing (HSV1/HSV2/VZV) is performed Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Turnaround time is up to 3 days from date of receipt at PHO Laboratory

Test Methods

As of April 24th, 2017 virus culture is no longer performed for CSF specimens. CSF specimens will be tested for HSV1/HSV2/VZV at PHOL-Toronto using a more sensitive in-house real-time PCR method.

Please contact PHOL if virus culture testing is preferred (instead of molecular testing) prior to submitting the specimen(s).


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

Specimens that are positive for Herpes Simplex from sterile sites are reported to the Medical Officer of Health as per Health Protection and Promotion Act.

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Contact Laboratory Customer Service

Laboratory Services


Updated 20 July 2020