Virus Culture, Rapid, Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)

CPT: 87254
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  • Chickenpox Culture
  • Culture, Varicella Zoster Virus
  • Shingles Culture
  • VZV Culture

Test Includes

Shell vials or equivalent multiwell plate with fluorescent antibody staining. CPT coding for microbiology and virology procedures often cannot be determined before the culture is performed. This culture is for the isolation of varicella-zoster, other viral agents will not routinely be detected. If a virus other than the one specified for this virus-specific culture is recovered, identification will be made, and an additional charge will apply. The client will not be telephoned to approve this charge.

Special Instructions

If reflex test is performed, additional charges/CPT code(s) may apply.

Include one specimen per test request form. See Virus, Direct Detection DFA, Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) [185009]. Indicate exact specimen source (eg, lesion) on the test request form. Do not use transport devices beyond the expiration date.

Expected Turnaround Time

5 - 6 days

Related Documents

Specimen Requirements


Vesicular fluid, vesicle scrapings


Viral, Chlamydia, or Mycoplasma culture transport provided by LabCorp, or other appropriate transport medium. Smears of vesicle fluid may also be submitted for DFA at additional charge [test 185009].


Do not prepare collection site with alcohol or iodophors. Vesicle fluid from several vesicles can be pooled and added to viral transport medium. Alternatively, the bases of several freshly unroofed lesions can be vigorously sampled with a sterile swab that subsequently should be placed into cold viral transport medium and sent to the laboratory as soon as possible.

Storage Instructions

Keep specimens cold and moist.

Causes for Rejection

Bacterial swab specimen; specimen received in grossly leaking transport container; dry specimen; specimen submitted in fixative or additive; specimen received in expired transport media or incorrect transport device; inappropriate specimen transport conditions; specimen received after prolonged delay in transport (usually more than 72 hours); specimen stored or transported at room temperature; wooden shaft swab in transport device; unlabeled specimen or name discrepancy between specimen and request label

Test Details


Aid in the diagnosis of disease caused by varicella-zoster virus (ie, chickenpox and shingles)


Shell vial or multiwell plate cell cultures stained at 48 hours and four days

Reference Interval

No virus isolated

Additional Information

Varicella-zoster virus is a single virus that causes two diseases: chickenpox (varicella) in children and, after reactivation from latency, shingles (zoster) in adults. Disease caused by VZV is usually self-limited; however, the disease can be life-threatening in pregnant persons, immunocompromised persons, and children who receive cancer therapy. In addition, congenital chickenpox can result in neonatal systemic disease and/or congenital malformations. Serology for the detection of VZV antibodies is available. Rapid turnaround time of serological tests can be especially important in detecting the presence of antibody (prior exposure) in pregnant persons who have been exposed to persons with chickenpox because VZIG should be given within three days (maximum) of exposure. Cell culture of VZV often has been reported to be less sensitive than direct antigen detection of VZV by immunofluorescence.1,2


1. Drew WL. Diagnostic virology. Clin Lab Med. 1987 Dec; 7(4):721-740 (review). 3319366
2. Gershon AA, Steinberg SP, Schmidt NJ. Varicella-Zoster virus. Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 5th ed. Washington, DC: ASM Press; 1991:838-846.


Schauf V, Tolpin M. Varicella-Zoster virus. In: Belshe RB, ed. Textbook of Human Virology. Littleton, Mass: PGS Publishing Co;1984: 829-851.
Solomon AR. New diagnostic tests for herpes simplex and varicella zoster infections. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1988 Jan; 18(1 Pt 2):218-221. 2448353
Strommen GL, Pucino F, Tight RR, Beck CL. Human infection with herpes zoster: Etiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, clinical course, and treatment. Pharmacotherapy. 1988; 8(1):52-68 (review). 3287356


Order Code Order Code Name Order Loinc Result Code Result Code Name UofM Result LOINC
186031 Viral Culture,Rapid,Varicella 10860-5 186031 Viral Culture,Rapid,Varicella 10860-5
Reflex Table for Viral Culture,Rapid,Varicella
Order Code Order Name Result Code Result Name UofM Result LOINC
Reflex 1 186032 Viral Identification 186032 Viral Identification 615-5

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