Test Detail
Interpreting Results

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Written by
Dr. Betina Chandolia
BDS, MDS - Oral Pathology and Microbiology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Herpes Simplex Virus 1 & 2 IgM

(HSV-1 & 2- IgM)
You need to provide
This test is for
Male, Female
Test Preparation
  1. No special preparation required


What is HSV-1 & 2- IgM?

Herpes Simplex Virus(HSV) 1 & 2 IgM test helps in early diagnosis of the highly contagious Herpes disease caused by HSV. In general HSV-1 causes oral herpes, indicating symptoms like cold sores and blisters near the mouth or on the face. While HSV-2 causes genital herpes, which is manifested by sores in the genital areaOther symptoms of the HSV 1 and 2 infection include fever, sore throat, headache, and tingling in the affected area. 

This test is also suggested in case of encephalitis where the viral infection is suspected. An IgG test is usually advised after 2-3 weeks of IgM test.

Why is HSV-1 & 2- IgM done?

The Herpes Simplex Virus 1 & 2, IgM test is done:

  1. In case of signs of herpes virus infection like blisters on the genitals

  2. In case of encephalitis where viral infection is suspected

  3. In case of pregnancy where herpes is detected in the pregnant lady 

  4. In case of screening for previous exposure to herpes simplex virus

  5. In cases of any other sexually transmitted disease and the person is  at risk of herpes infection

What does HSV-1 & 2- IgM Measure?

Herpes is a common viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can be classified into two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Herpes simplex virus test is done to identify the presence of the virus in a sample from a blister, sore, or fluid. This is done to diagnose an acute herpes infection or to detect herpes antibodies in the blood to determine previous exposure to herpes.

Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are contagious and periodically cause small fever blisters that break to form open lesions. HSV-1 initially causes blisters or "cold sores" around the mouth, while HSV-2 usually causes lesions around the genital area. However, either one can affect the oral or genital areas.

The herpes simplex virus can be passed from one individual to others through skin contact while the sores are open and healing. It can even get passed on when there are no visible sores. HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease whereas HSV-1 can also be acquired during oral sex and found in the genital area. These viruses show mild symptoms due to that 90% of HSV-2 infected people remain unaware of their condition.

When someone is first infected, the person may have obvious and painful blisters at the site of infection, which usually appear within two weeks after the virus is first transmitted. The blisters can appear in the vaginal area, on the penis, around the anus, or on the buttocks or thighs. This initial infection can include a second outbreak of blisters and even flu-like symptoms such as fever and swollen glands. However, not everyone develops blisters, and sometimes symptoms are so mild that they are unnoticeable or mistaken for something else, such as insect bites or a rash.

Once someone is infected and the initial infection resolves, the person will harbor the HSV in a hidden form. During periods of stress or illness, the virus may reactivate.

People with conditions like HIV/AIDS or those who have had an organ transplant in which the immune system gets suppressed may have more frequent and serious outbreaks of HSV. While there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications can suppress outbreaks and shorten the duration of symptoms and may promote active shedding of the virus.

Rarely, the virus can cause neonatal herpes (when a woman transmits the virus to her baby during vaginal delivery). Symptoms of neonatal herpes appear during the first month of the delivery, but if left untreated then they can lead to long-term damage to a baby's health. A pregnant woman who has been diagnosed with herpes may require regular monitoring prior to delivery. This is done to screen if there is any activity of HBV infection, which would indicate the requirement of a cesarean section to avoid infecting the baby.

The herpes simplex virus can be transmitted to the brain which may cause encephalitis. This illness can be life-threatening or may cause serious, permanent neurological problems in those who survive.

Interpreting HSV-1 & 2- IgM results




< 0.8


0.8 - 1.2


> 1.2


Negative results do not rule out the possibility of infection. Retesting is recommended after 8 - 14 days. 

Reference range may vary from lab to lab*

Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HSV-1 & 2- IgM

Frequently Asked Questions about Herpes Simplex Virus 1 & 2 IgM

Q. How can herpes be prevented?
Oral herpes (mouth sores, skin lesions in non-genital sites) can't be prevented as exposure to it occurs during everyday life. The most reliable way to avoid genital infection with herpes or any sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from oral, vaginal, and anal sex. The other effective way is to have a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. People who are sexually active should use condoms correctly and consistently to reduce the risk of infection with herpes and other STDs.
Q. Are there other types of herpes viruses besides HSV-1 and HSV-2?
Yes. There are over 25 viruses in the herpes family and among these, there are at least 8 types which infect humans. These include varicella zoster virus (VZV, HHV-3), associated with chickenpox and shingles and herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2. The other types of viruses involve Epstein Barr virus (EBV, HHV-4), which can cause infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus (CMV, HHV-5), human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7), both associated with roseola in young children, and human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), which has been found in tumors in people with Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). KS primarily affects people with weakened immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients and those with HIV/AIDS.
Q. How is the blood sample taken?
The healthcare provider takes a blood sample from the arm. The site from where the blood is to be withdrawn is cleaned with a swab of rubbing alcohol. This is then followed by inserting a small needle which has a tube attached to it for collecting blood. Once the sufficient blood for analysis is withdrawn, the needle is removed. The site is then covered with a gauze pad.
Q. Is there any risk associated with the withdrawal of blood sample procedure?
As such there is no risk but in few cases, bruising, bleeding, and infection at the puncture site can be seen. In very few cases, there can be swelling of the vein after the blood is withdrawn.
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Vivek Shukla
Very nice experience. Highly recommended.
Girish K Kulkarni
Awesome experience. Pathology test was never so easy.

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