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Test Identifier Information

Registration CodeHERP(swabs) DVAR(tissue/other excluding CSF) CNSP(CSF)

Detection of VZV DNA. Nucleic acid extraction, PCR amplification and detection.

Refer to GroupHerpes Virus Group DNA ;
External PriceContact Canterbury Health Laboratories on +64 3 364 0484 or email Labinfo.

Specimen Collection

Pre-Testing Requirements

Please consult laboratory if urgent.

Specimen Collection Protocols

Lesion, ulcer and vesicle swabs

It is optimal to collect specimens within three days of eruption. Disrupt/remove top of vesicle, and collect fluid with a dacron tipped swab (black top swab).With the same swab rub the base of the lesion, ulcer or open vesicle, Return the dry swab to the Laboratory. DO NOT place in bacterial transport medium. Swabs can alternatively be placed in viral transport medium.  

For non-vesicular lesions it is recommended that cells be collected from the base of the lesion using a swab pre-moistened with sterile saline.

Swab Identification Guide


Place small samples into virus transport medium to prevent drying. Place bigger specimens into a sterile container.


Patient SpecimenSee specimen collection protocol
Paediatric SpecimenSee specimen collection protocol
Sample Delivery to LabAt 4C (on melting ice or chilly pad)
Aliquot Transport to CHLPlace specimen in PCR bag.

CHLabs Laboratory

Contact Details** Unknown email address **
Contact Phone Number03-3640416 / ext. 80416
Test AvailabilityBatched Mon-Fri 9am. For urgent requests contact laboratory
Turnaround Time3-75 hrs

Varicella zoster virus



Varicella zoster virus causes both latent, asymptomatic and symptomatic infections. During primary infection shedding can occur from sites other than the primary lesion, similarly during reactivation virus shedding may occur in the presence or absence of symptoms.

Diagnostic testing is helpful when clinical diagnosis is uncertain (especially immunocompromised individuals), where atypical lesions are present or when antiviral therapy is contemplated.

Results are reported as Varicella zoster virus DNA DETECTED or Varicella zoster virus DNA NOT detected.

PCR results should always be interpreted in conjunction with clinical history or symptomatology.



For additional clinical interpretation contact the Clinical Microbiologist or Microbiology Registrar via Virology. Phone 03 3640356 (x80356) or 03 3640354 (x80354).

Additional Information

Application / Testing Strategy


Diagnostic testing for Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is very helpful when a clinical diagnosis is uncertain (especially in immunocompromised individuals), where atypical lesions are present or when antiviral therapy is contemplated.

These assay can be used for the detection of VZV nucleic acid from all samples and sites.

Nucleic acid testing by PCR for VZV has an increased sensitivity and provides improved turn around time compared to virus culture. PCR is now the diagnostic test of choice for Varicella zoster virus, and has replaced antigen detection and culture at CHL.


Testing Strategy:

Where possible the referrer needs to indicate the site and virus of interest. This will help the laboratory rationalise what testing is needed. For example genital sites will be tested for Herpes simplex viruses (HSV) I & II. Cutaneous sites will be tested for Varicella zoster virus (VZV) first and then for HSV if clinically indicated. Samples from oral and lip lesions will be tested for HSV. Often HSV and VZV skin infections are clinically indistinguishable.


Delphic Number Test Number2321

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