Epstein-Barr virus: Introduction
The Epstein-Barr virus, also called EBV, is an extremely common virus that infects most people at one time or another during their lifetimes. Epstein-Barr virus infection causes no symptoms or a minor cold-like or flu-like illness in many cases. However, in adolescents and young adults an Epstein-Barr virus infection can cause mononucleosis, a more serious illness. Epstein-Barr virus infection has also been linked to the development of certain rare cancers, including Burkitt's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
Epstein-Barr virus is very contagious and spreads from person to person through intimate contact with the saliva of a person who has the Epstein-Barr virus. About 95% of all adults have had an Epstein-Barr virus infection.
The symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus infection can vary from non-existent, to mild, to severe. Life-threatening complications may develop in some cases of mononucleosis. General symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus infection are flu-like or cold-like. The classic symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus infection that results in the development of mononucleosis include swollen glands and extreme fatigue. For additional symptoms and more information about complications, refer to symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus.
Making a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus infection involves taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam. This includes feeling the lymph glands for signs of swelling. A rapid test called a mono spot test is available to help diagnose Epstein-Barr virus infection that has lead to mononucleosis. This test might be performed in conjunction with a blood test that checks for the presence of specific antibodies that the body produces to fight Epstein-Barr virus.
Other blood tests include a complete blood count, which tests for an abnormally high number of white blood cells. This indicates an infectious process occurring in the body.
It is possible that a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus infection can be delayed or overlooked because the symptoms commonly resemble symptoms of other diseases. For information about misdiagnosis and diseases and conditions that can mimic Epstein-Barr virus infection, refer to misdiagnosis ofEpstein-Barr virus.
Treatment of most viral diseases begins with preventing the spread of the disease with basic hygiene measures. However, Epstein-Barr virus infection is extremely common and causes infection in most people at one time or another during their lifetime. It is also possible to spread the Epstein-Barr virus even when a person is not sick. Because of this, there is little that can be done to prevent its spread. However, avoiding contact with another person's saliva by not sharing glasses or toothbrushes is still a good disease prevention measure.
There is currently no specific cure for Epstein-Barr virus infection. Treatment includes measures to help relieve symptoms and keep the body as strong as possible until the disease runs its course. This includes rest, medications to ease body aches and fever, and drinking plenty of fluids. People who are in good health can generally recover from the Epstein-Barr virus infection at home with supportive care, such as rest, fluids, and pain relievers. Corticosteroids may be prescribed in some cases of mononucleosis.
Antibiotics are ineffective against Epstein-Barr virus, but may be prescribed if the complications of a secondary bacterial infection develops, such as bacterial tonsillitis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of Epstein-Barr virus. ...more »
Epstein-Barr virus: Common virus causing mononucleosis.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Epstein-Barr virus is available below.
Epstein-Barr virus: Symptoms
Symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus infection can vary among individuals. Toddlers and adults may experience no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur they may be vague and similar to a cold or the flu. Symptoms may include a general mild feeling of malaise.
In adolescents and young adults who develop mononucleosis, symptoms generally begin ...more symptoms »
Epstein-Barr virus: Treatments
Unlike many other viral diseases, it is very difficult to control the spread of Epstein-Barr infection with basic hygiene measures. This is because the Epstein-Barr virus is extremely common and causes infection in 95% of people at one time or another during their lifetime. It is also possible to spread the Epstein-Barr virus even when a person is not sick after all signs of infection ...more treatments »
Epstein-Barr virus: Misdiagnosis
Epstein-Barr virus infection is extremely common and often goes undiagnosed because many people have no symptoms or because the symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus infection can mimic other diseases, such as strep throat, influenza, cold, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, lymphoma, and upper respiratory infection. ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus
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Definitions of Epstein-Barr virus:
A species of Herpetoviridae that is responsible for infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever). Discovered in 1964, this virus has been associated with Burkitt's lymphoma in South African children and with nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Asian populations. (On-line Medical Dictionary)
- (Source - Diseases Database)
The herpes virus that causes infectious mononucleosis; associated with specific cancers in Africa and China
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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