BACKGROUND--The Surecell herpes (HSV) test kit is a test for detecting the presence of herpes simplex viral antigen by means of a monoclonal antibody based immunoassay. The test has proved to be highly sensitive and specific in diagnosing genital, oral, and dermatological herpes infections. METHODS--In this study, samples from patients with ocular keratitis were evaluated by tissue cultures and the Surecell test. The eyes of New Zealand rabbits were then inoculated with HSV type 1 acute keratitis, acute Staphylococcus keratitis, and HSV type 1 postkeratitis (healed corneas). Tear film samples collected from each eye with a cotton swab were evaluated by routine culture (A-549 monolayers) and by the Surecell test with and without prior placement of the swab in Hank's medium. RESULTS--The Surecell system had a 70% sensitivity and a 100% specificity in the detection of HSV antigen in ocular infections, and was shown to be a quick, efficient, and accurate method of testing for HSV antigen in humans. CONCLUSION--These results from humans and rabbits indicate that the Surecell test, which requires no special equipment, can be a useful in office adjunct in the clinical diagnosis of ocular herpes simplex.
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