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Viral Tests

Results continued...

Depending on the virus, it can take weeks for antibodies to develop after exposure to the virus. In these situations, test results may be negative early in the course of the infection. This is called a false-negative test result. Another blood sample may need to be drawn later to check again for a viral infection. Antibody titers that get higher over 3 weeks from the first sample to the second mean the infection occurred recently.

Viral test

Normal (results that do not show a viral infection are called negative):

Antibody test:

No antibodies to the virus are found.

Viral antigen detection test:

No antigens made by the viral infection are found.

Viral culture:

No viral infection is seen in the culture.

Viral DNA or RNA detection test:

No viral DNA or RNA is found.

Abnormal (results that show a viral infection are called positive):

Antibody test:

Antibodies to a virus are found. But if you have a second antibody test and the results are not higher than the first test, this may mean the infection occurred in the past and is not a problem now.

Viral antigen detection test:

Viral antigens are found.

Viral culture:

Changes occur in the culture that show a viral infection.

Viral DNA or RNA detection test:

Viral DNA or RNA is found.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include taking antiviral medicines.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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