How is herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection diagnosed in children?

Updated: Feb 27, 2019
  • Author: J Michael Klatte, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Measures for diagnosing HSV infection in children include the following:

  • PCR assay (preferred for CNS infection [8, 9, 10] and possibly valuable for disseminated disease)

  • Isolation of the virus in tissue cultures (most common confirmation method)

  • Histologic analysis of scrapings or punch biopsy specimens

  • Cytologic evaluation via a Tzanck preparation

  • Serologic testing (only for determining past HSV exposure)

  • Lumbar puncture and cerebrospinal fluid analysis

  • Immunofluorescent microscopy

  • Brain biopsy

  • Imaging studies: Computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging

See Workup for more detail.

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