Time Sensitive

Ordering Recommendation

Detect varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Negative or inadequate DFA results are confirmed with culture. DFA sensitivity is highest when performed on scrapings from base of lesions; culture sensitivity is highest when specimens are collected soon after onset of symptoms. Molecular testing is generally preferred; refer to Varicella-Zoster Virus by PCR (0060042).

New York DOH Approval Status

This test is not New York state approved.

Specimen Required

Patient Preparation

Collect vesicle specimen during first three days of rash.


Vesicle fluid or swab, tissue, or skin scrapings. Swab should be rolled in base of fresh vesicle to obtain cells.

Specimen Preparation

Immediately transfer specimen to viral transport media (ARUP Supply #12884) and refrigerate (extremely temperature sensitive). Available online through eSupply using ARUP Connect™ or contact ARUP Client Services at (800) 522-2787.

Storage/Transport Temperature


Unacceptable Conditions

Bone marrow, CSF, or whole blood. Calcium alginate, eSwab, dry or wood swabs.


Specimen source preferred.


Ambient: Unacceptable; Refrigerated: 48 hours; Frozen: Unacceptable


Direct Fluorescent Antibody Stain/Cell Culture




3-5 days
DFA reported at 24 hours. Negative culture reported at 5 days.  Positive cultures are reported as soon as detected.

Reference Interval


Interpretive Data

Approximately 20% of samples submitted for VZV are positive for herpes simplex virus.  Testing for herpes simplex virus is NOT included in this test.

Compliance Category

Modified FDA


If DFA is negative or inadequate, then a VZV culture will be added. Additional charges apply.

Sensitivity of DFA methodology is dependent upon adequacy of the specimen. If specimen contains fewer than 20 cells, then the DFA result will be reported as "inadequate."

Hotline History


CPT Codes

87290; if reflexed, add 87252; 87254


Component Test Code* Component Chart Name LOINC
0060282 Varicella-Zoster Virus, DFA 5882-6
0060335 Varicella-Zoster Virus Fac Source 31208-2
* Component test codes cannot be used to order tests. The information provided here is not sufficient for interface builds; for a complete test mix, please click the sidebar link to access the Interface Map.


  • Herpes Zoster
  • Herpes Zoster Antigen Detection & Culture
  • Varicella Zoster Virus
  • Varicella Zoster Virus Antigen Detection
  • VZV
Varicella-Zoster Virus DFA with Reflex to Varicella-Zoster Virus Culture