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Epstein Barr Virus


This infection is transmitted via salivary secretions of EBV shedders to susceptible people. Once the virus gains entry into the host, it replicates in the epithelial cells of the oropharynx and leads to infectious mononucleosis which is also referred to as the ‘kissing disease’.

How common

It is estimated that 90 to 95% of adults eventually become EBV-seropositive in the whole world. In developing nations, close to 100% of children are seropositive by the time the reach the age of four years old. EBV acquired in childhood is milder than when acquired in adolescence or adulthood.

Chances of being infected

Since the EBV silently resides in the B-cells of the immune cells it is fairly easy to transmit the infection from one person to another. A whooping 9 out of 10 individuals carry this virus! On the other hand developing cancer as a result of the EBV is uncommon.

How to detect if someone has it

Epstein Barr Virus - Detect

It is not easy to tell if someone has EBV just by looking at them or accessing the symptoms.

Common symptoms that these patients show are;

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness and muscle soreness
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands of the neck
  • Rash

These symptoms will usually go away in 2-4 weeks but the tiredness and muscle weakness might persist for a longer duration of time.

A swollen liver and spleen coupled with the above symptoms might point towards a diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis, however a definitive diagnosis would require blood tests so as to rule out other diseases that might cause the same symptoms.


There is no known vaccine to prevent against EBV virus. However, once a person is infected, they develop long lasting immunity against the disease.


The mainstay of treatment is supportive.

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are of use in pain management and reduction of inflammation in the pharynx
  • Acetaminophen can also aid in relief of the fevers
  • Adequate hydration and nutrition is also imperative
  • Avoidance of strenuous exercise can also aid in preventing splenic rupture

Acyclovir can be used to fight the virus

Best sources for more information

The risk chart is the heart of this guide, and it can be found here

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