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NOTE: A surveillance case definition is a set of uniform criteria used to define a disease for public health surveillance. Surveillance case definitions enable public health officials to classify and count cases consistently across reporting jurisdictions. Surveillance case definitions are not intended to be used by healthcare providers for making a clinical diagnosis or determining how to meet an individual patient’s health needs.

Clinical Description

An illness characterized by visible, painful genital or anogenital lesions

Laboratory Criteria For Diagnosis

  • Isolation of herpes simplex virus from cervix, urethra, or anogenital lesion, OR
  • Demonstration of virus by antigen detection technique in clinical specimens from cervix, urethra, or anogenital lesion, OR
  • Demonstration of multinucleated giant cells on a Tzanck smear of scrapings from an anogenital lesion

Case Classification


A clinically compatible case (in which primary and secondary syphilis have been ruled out by serology and darkfield microscopy, when available) with either a diagnosis of genital herpes based on clinical presentation (without laboratory confirmation) or a history of one or more previous episodes of similar genital lesions


A clinically compatible case that is laboratory confirmed


Herpes should be reported only once per patient. The first diagnosis for a patient with no previous diagnosis should be reported.

Related Case Definition(s)