Is antibody testing useful in the diagnosis of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection?

Updated: Mar 01, 2018
  • Author: Folusakin O Ayoade, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Antibody testing can demonstrate a primary seroconversion, particularly with HSV-1 in childhood. [1] If serology results are negative while viral culture of specimen is positive, one can assume primary infection.

Because of sero–cross-reactivity, HSV-1 and HSV-2 are not generally distinguishable unless a glycoprotein G antibody assay is available. Testing for HSV-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies is not available.

Antibody titer increases generally do not occur during recurrences of HSV infection. Therefore, the test is generally not used for the diagnosis of mucocutaneous HSV relapse.

Antibody testing has been the mainstay of large-scale epidemiologic studies.

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