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CSF – Viral PCR



Nucleic acid amplification assays (PCR) for the detection of the following in CSF:

  • HSV (Herpes simplex Virus) 1 & 2 DNA
  • VZV (Varicella Zoster Virus) DNA
  • Enterovirus RNA
  • Parechovirus RNA (in children <3 years of age)


Diagnosis of Viral Encephalitis / Meningitis



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How To Request On EPIC

For electronic requesting using EPIC (RDUH ONLY):

Search for: ‘CSF MC&S‘ or test code ‘LAB212‘ – make sure to indicate that you would like the Microbiology Consultants to review the patient with regards to Viral PCR testing

Special Instructions

  • Please state which condition you suspect when sending request.
  • Please state if patient is immunocompromised as additional testing may be indicated


Processed locally in Microbiology at RDUH

Processing Time

2 days

All positives will be communicated to the requesting clinician as soon as possible after testing is complete.

Additional Information

Please note:

  • Where possible all samples positive for Enterovirus RNA will be referred to the Virus Reference Department (VRD), UKHSA Colindale, London for typing.
  • The laboratory is currently verifying additional viral, bacterial and fungal PCR targets which may be tested dependent on clinical presentation.



Useful Links

For Patients:

CSF Analysis – Lab Tests Online

Meningitis and Encephalitis – Lab Tests Online

Meningitis – NHS

Encephalitis – NHS

For Healthcare Professionals:

Encephalitis – Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice

Viral meningitis – Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice

Diagnostic lumbar puncture in adults: animated demonstration – BMJ Best Practice

SMI – S 5 – Meningoencephalitis (rcpath.org)

SMI – V 43 – Investigation of Viral Encephalitis (rcpath.org)

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