Herpes Culture Test

A herpes culture test is taken to screen for or diagnose infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is related to genital herpes, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord) and other diseases, depending upon the type of the virus. Most often, it is either HSV-1 or HSV-2.


If you have symptoms such as blisters in the genital area and viral meningitis, you may use the herpes culture test.


To get tested, you may submit:

  • (for signs of blisters) a swab or scraping from a blister or sore in the infected area, or a blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm
  • (for meningitis or encephalitis) a sample of cerebrospinal fluid


If antibody blood tests are taken, the results may be:

  • A positive HSV IgM antibody test result, when there is an active or recent infection;
  • A positive HSV IgG antibody test result, when there used to be an infection;
  • A significant increase in HSV IgG antibodies, when there is an active or recent infection;
  • A negative HSV antibody test result, when either there is no infection or that the body has not had time to begin producing antibodies.


To rule out the possibility of an HSV infection, you can repeat testing.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.