Herpes Simplex Virus Culture (HERC)

Test Code

Quest Code

Alias/See Also

CPT Codes

Preferred Specimen
Nasal/nasopharyngeal swab, endocervical swab, eye swab or lesion (vesicle) aspirate swab, urethral swab, vaginal swab, rectal mucosa swab (without feces) or throat swab collected in V-C-M (green-cap) tube or equivalent

Minimum Volume
1 swab • 1 mL fluid • 1 g or 2mm

Other Acceptable Specimens
Multiple site swabs from newborns (rectal, mouth, eye, nasal, skin)

To maintain optimum viability, place swab into VCM (equal volumes of fluid/tissue and VCM) or equivalent and transport the specimen to the laboratory as soon as possible. Best recovery is obtained when the specimens are refrigerated at 2-8° C or kept on wet ice following collection and while in transit. If there will be a long delay before processing, specimens in VCM or equivalent should be frozen at -70° C or colder and transported on dry ice. Storage or transport at -20° C is not acceptable.
Raw (unpreserved) samples should only be refrigerated and not frozen.

Note: PCR is the preferred test for CSF or eye fluid (preferred specimen: 1 mL CSF or eye fluid submitted in a sterile, leak-proof container without transport media).

Transport Container
VCM tube or other FDA approved equivalent viral transport media or Sterile container

Transport Temperature

Specimen Stability
VCM or equivalent
Room temperature: Unacceptable
Refrigerated: 4 days
Frozen -20° C: Unacceptable
Frozen -70° C or below: 30 days

Raw (unpreserved) specimen
Room temperature: Unacceptable
Refrigerated: 72 hours
Frozen: Unacceptable

Reject Criteria (Eg, hemolysis? Lipemia? Thaw/Other?)
CSF • Eye fluid • Bacterial transport systems • Dry swab • Molecular transport systems • Semen • Single swab with multiple collection sites and age is not newborn • Slides • Specimens in formalin or other fixatives • Sputum • Stool specimens • Wooden-shaft swabs • Calcium alginate swabs

Centrifuge Enhanced Culture

Setup Schedule
7: 00 AM Monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday, and sunday

Report Available
9 days updated 2/26/96 atgg01

Clinical Significance
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is responsible for several clinically significant human viral diseases, with severity ranging from mild to fatal. Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 infection are usually found above the waist. Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 infections are more commonly seen in association with the genitalia, and surrounding areas, and are usually sexually transmitted. It is important to note however, that both Herpes Simplex types 1 and 2 have been involved in all disease manifestations and locations of the body, following introduction of the virus through broken skin or mucous membranes.

Performing Laboratory
Quest Diagnostics - South Region

The CPT Codes provided in this document are based on AMA guidelines and are for informational purposes only. CPT coding is the sole responsibility of the billing party. Please direct any questions regarding coding to the payor being billed. Any Profile/panel component may be ordered separately. Reflex tests are performed at an additional charge.