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Does asymptomatic shedding of herpes simplex virus on the ocular surface lead to false-positive diagnostic PCR results?
  1. Julie F Leigh,
  2. Nisha Acharya,
  3. Vicky Cevallos,
  4. Todd P Margolis
  1. F I Proctor Foundation, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Dr Todd P Margolis, PhD, F I Proctor Foundation, 95 Kirkham Street, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0944, USA; Todd.Margolis{at}

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Herpes simplex virus (HSV) keratitis is a major cause of ocular morbidity in the developed world and standard viral culture techniques to detect HSV in this condition are rapidly being replaced by PCR-based assays.2 3 In 2005, however, Kaufman et al1 reported an unexpectedly high rate of HSV type 1 shedding detected by PCR on the ocular surface of patients without active corneal disease. In the light of this, we reviewed our clinical laboratory experience to assess the rate of false-positive results with a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified PCR-based assay for the detection of HSV DNA.

Review of laboratory database and clinical charts

We included all corneal specimens evaluated in the F I Proctor Foundation clinical laboratory …

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  • Approval for this study was obtained from the Committee on Human Research at the University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.

  • Competing interests: Funding for this study was provided by F I Proctor Foundation, Research to Prevent Blindness and National Institutes of Health grant nos EY10008 and EY02162.

  • Competing interests: None.

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