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J Clin Microbiol. 1996 Mar;34(3):657-63.

Detection of viral DNA to evaluate outcome of antiviral treatment of patients with recurrent genital herpes.

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  • 1Division of Virology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Canada.


Culture of infectious virus, PCR amplification of viral DNA, and the appearance of genital skin lesions were used as markers to study the course of a recurrence of genital herpes in 40 patients treated with famciclovir or placebo. The highest frequency of patients with skin lesions occurred within the first 36 h following the onset of a recurrence, which also corresponded to the peak in the production of virus. While the timing of the peak in skin lesions was independent of the type of treatment, the frequency of lesions and the release of virus at the lesion site were both reduced by famciclovir treatment. Furthermore, patients receiving this antiviral agent showed a more rapid recovery time and a shorter period during which viral DNA could be detected at the lesion. PCR and then Southern blot hybridization greatly enhanced our ability to detect herpes simplex virus at the lesion site. This procedure proved to be of greater diagnostic value in assessing genital herpes than the standard culture method currently used. In addition, PCR was more sensitive in evaluating treatment effectiveness.

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