Procedures using real-time technique were developed to demonstrate the presence of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2, varicella zoster virus (VZV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV) in miscellaneous clinical specimens. The assays were compared to rapid culture using centrifugation followed by detection with monoclonal antibodies. A total of 711 consecutive samples were collected from different patient groups. Throat swabs were obtained from transplant patients; dermal or oral specimens were collected from patients suspected for VZV or HSV infection. Genital specimens were taken from patients who attended the Clinic for Sexually Transmitted Diseases at the Dijkzigt Hospital Rotterdam presenting with symptoms of a primary genital ulcer. Nucleic acid extraction was carried out using a MagnaPure LC instrument. The amplification steps were performed on the ABI Prism 7700 sequence detection system. To monitor the process of extraction and amplification, a universal control consisting of seal herpesvirus type 1 (PhHV-1) was added to the clinical specimens. By culture 127 of 668 (19%) samples were positive for HSV-1, 72 of 668 (10.8%) specimens were positive for HSV-2, and 17 of 366 (4.6%) were positive for VZV. Using real-time amplification the numbers of positive specimens were 143 of 668 (21.4%), 97 of 668 (14.5%), and 27 of 366 (7.4%), respectively. Eighty-six specimens were tested for CMV, 12 (14.0%) were positive by culture, and 17 (19.8%) were positive by real-time PCR. The clinical data of the patients with discrepant results were reviewed thoroughly. In all cases the patients with only real-time PCR-positive results could be considered as truly infected. We concluded that the real-time amplification technique is suitable for the detection of human herpesvirus infection. It offers a semiquantitative and reliable assay with a quick result that is more sensitive than rapid culture, especially for the diagnosis of HSV-2 and VZV infections.

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Journal of Clinical Microbiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Guldemeester, J., Osterhaus, A., Niesters, B., & van Doornum, G. (2003). Diagnosing herpesvirus infections by real time amplification and rapid culture. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 41(2), 576–580. doi:10.1128/JCM.41.2.576-580.2003