Detection of Human herpesvirus 6 using polymerase chain reaction technique
What is this test?
This test is used to detect the presence of human herpesvirus 6 in blood and other body fluids. This test is used to identify and monitor a herpesvirus infection, or when roseola infantum (sixth disease) is suspected.
What are other names for this test?
- PCR test for herpesvirus 6
What are related tests?
- Measurement of Human herpesvirus 6 antibody
Why do I need this test?
Laboratory tests may be done for many reasons. Tests are performed for routine health screenings or if a disease or toxicity is suspected. Lab tests may be used to determine if a medical condition is improving or worsening. Lab tests may also be used to measure the success or failure of a medication or treatment plan. Lab tests may be ordered for professional or legal reasons. You may need this test if you have:
- Herpesvirus infection
- Roseola infantum (HHV 6)
When and how often should I have this test?
When and how often laboratory tests are done may depend on many factors. The timing of laboratory tests may rely on the results or completion of other tests, procedures, or treatments. Lab tests may be performed immediately in an emergency, or tests may be delayed as a condition is treated or monitored. A test may be suggested or become necessary when certain signs or symptoms appear.
Due to changes in the way your body naturally functions through the course of a day, lab tests may need to be performed at a certain time of day. If you have prepared for a test by changing your food or fluid intake, lab tests may be timed in accordance with those changes. Timing of tests may be based on increased and decreased levels of medications, drugs or other substances in the body.
The age or gender of the person being tested may affect when and how often a lab test is required. Chronic or progressive conditions may need ongoing monitoring through the use of lab tests. Conditions that worsen and improve may also need frequent monitoring. Certain tests may be repeated to obtain a series of results, or tests may need to be repeated to confirm or disprove results. Timing and frequency of lab tests may vary if they are performed for professional or legal reasons.
How should I get ready for the test?
Before having blood collected, tell the person drawing your blood if you are allergic to latex. Tell the healthcare worker if you have a medical condition or are using a medication or supplement that causes excessive bleeding. Also tell the healthcare worker if you have felt nauseated, lightheaded, or have fainted while having blood drawn in the past.
Other body fluid:
A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. Ask your healthcare worker for information about how to prepare for this test. If you have questions or concerns about the preparation for this test, talk to the healthcare worker.
How is the test done?
A sample of blood, saliva, or another body fluid may be collected for this test.
When a blood sample from a vein is needed, a vein in your arm is usually selected. A tourniquet (large rubber strap) may be secured above the vein. The skin over the vein will be cleaned, and a needle will be inserted. You will be asked to hold very still while your blood is collected. Blood will be collected into one or more tubes, and the tourniquet will be removed. When enough blood has been collected, the healthcare worker will take the needle out.
Other body fluid:
A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. Methods used to collect other body fluids or tissue samples may vary. Ask the healthcare worker to explain how this sample may be collected. If you have questions or concerns about this test, talk to the healthcare worker.
How will the test feel?
The amount of discomfort you feel will depend on many factors, including your sensitivity to pain. Communicate how you are feeling with the person doing the procedure. Inform the person doing the procedure if you feel that you cannot continue with the procedure.
During a blood draw, you may feel mild discomfort at the location where the blood sample is being collected.
Other body fluid:
A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. This test may feel different depending on many factors, including the sample needed and how it is collected. Ask the healthcare worker what to expect during this test.
What should I do after the test?
After a blood sample is collected from your vein, a bandage, cotton ball, or gauze may be placed on the area where the needle was inserted. You may be asked to apply pressure to the area. Avoid strenuous exercise immediately after your blood draw. Contact your healthcare worker if you feel pain or see redness, swelling, or discharge from the puncture site.
Other body fluid:
A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. Instructions for what to do after a collection of other body fluid or tissue samples may vary. Ask the healthcare worker to instruct you on what to expect after this test is completed. If you have questions or concerns about what to expect after the test is completed, talk to the healthcare worker.
What are the risks?
Blood: During a blood draw, a hematoma (blood-filled bump under the skin) or slight bleeding from the puncture site may occur. After a blood draw, a bruise or infection may occur at the puncture site. The person doing this test may need to perform it more than once. Talk to your healthcare worker if you have any concerns about the risks of this test.
Other body fluid or tissue samples: A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. Ask your healthcare worker to explain the risks of this test to you. If you have questions or concerns about this test, talk to the healthcare worker.
What are normal results for this test?
Laboratory test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and many other factors. If your results are different from the results suggested below, this may not mean that you have a disease. Contact your healthcare worker if you have any questions. The following is considered to be a normal result for this test:
- Adults and children: negative
What follow up should I do after this test?
Ask your healthcare worker how you will be informed of the test results. You may be asked to call for results, schedule an appointment to discuss results, or notified of results by mail. Follow up care varies depending on many factors related to your test. Sometimes there is no follow up after you have been notified of test results. At other times follow up may be suggested or necessary. Some examples of follow up care include changes to medication or treatment plans, referral to a specialist, more or less frequent monitoring, and additional tests or procedures. Talk with your healthcare worker about any concerns or questions you have regarding follow up care or instructions.
Other body fluid:
A different sample other than the samples listed above may be collected for this test. Ask the healthcare worker for follow up care instructions after this test.
Where can I get more information?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - http://www.cdc.gov/
- American Social Health Association (ASHA) - http://www.ashastd.org
 Zerr DM, Meier AS, Selke SS, et al: A population-based study of primary human herpesvirus 6 infection. N Engl J Med 2005; 352(8):768-776.
 Chiu SS, Cheung CY, Tse CY, et al: Early diagnosis of primary human herpesvirus 6 infection in childhood: serology, polymerase chain reaction, and virus load. J Infect Dis 1998; 178(5):1250-1256.
 Dockrell DH, Smith TF, & Paya CV: Human herpesvirus 6. Mayo Clin Proc 1999; 74(2):163-170.
 Yamanishi K, Okuno T, Shiraki K, et al: Identification of human herpesvirus-6 as a causal agent for exanthem subitum. Lancet 1988; 1(8594):1065-1067.
 Caserta MT, Hall CB, Schnabel K, et al: Primary human herpesvirus 7 infection: a comparison of human herpesvirus 7 and human herpesvirus 6 infections in children. J Pediatr 1998; 133(3):386-389.
 Clark DA, Kidd IM, Collingham KE, et al: Diagnosis of primary human herpesvirus 6 and 7 infections in febrile infants by polymerase chain reaction. Arch Dis Child 1997; 77(1):42-45.
Last Updated: 3/4/2018