Epstein – Barr virus (EBV) is a member of the herpes virus family, also a human tumor virus and one of the most common human viruses. The virus takes place worldwide, infects more than 95% of the world’s population, and most people become infected with EBV sometime during their lives. These infections usually cause no symptoms which are indistinguishable from the other mild, brief illnesses of childhood.
However, valid laboratory evidence for continued active EBV infection is seldom found in patients. Then illness should be investigated further to determine if it meets the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS. This process includes ruling out other causes of chronic illness or fatigue.
It causes infectious mononucleosis adolescence or young adulthood. Complications occur with mono including a temporarily enlarged spleen or inflamed liver, the spleen may rupture, producing sharp pain on the left side of the abdomen, a symptom that warrants immediate medical attention. EBV may also cause significant destruction of the body’s red blood cells or platelets.
EBV also establishes a lifelong dormant infection in some cells of the body’s immune system. Most individuals exposed to people with infectious mono have previously been infected with EBV and are not at risk for infectious mono. In addition, EBV is transmitted due to requires close contact with the saliva (found in the mouth) of an infected person. Transmission of this virus through the air or blood does not normally occur.
The incubation period, or the time from infection to appearance of symptoms, ranges from 4 to 6 weeks. Persons with infectious mono may be able to spread the infection to others for a period of weeks. However, no special precautions or isolation procedures are recommended, since the EBV is also found frequently in the saliva of healthy people. In fact, many healthy people can carry and spread the virus intermittently for life. These people are usually the primary reservoir for person-to-person transmission. For this reason, transmission of the virus is almost impossible to prevent.
EBV remains dormant or latent in a few cells in the throat and blood for the rest of the person’s life even though the symptoms of infectious mono resolve in 1 or 2 months. Periodically, the virus can reactivate and is commonly found in the saliva of infected persons. This reactivation usually occurs without symptoms of illness.
Mononucleosis is mainly caused by this Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and this is a member of herpes virus family. This ubiquitous, highly contagious organism is a member of the Herpesviridae family of viruses (other viruses in this family include herpes simplex, varicella zoster, cytomegalovirus, and human herpes virus 6 & 7). Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can sometimes also cause an illness with the symptoms of mononucleosis.
EBV creates a lifelong dormant infection in some cells of the body’s immune system. A late event in a very few carriers of this virus is the emergence of Burkitt’s lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, two rare cancers that are not normally found in the United States. EBV appears to play an important role in these malignancies, but is probably not the sole cause of disease.