About the Epstein-Barr virus and the diseases it causes

Of all the herpes viruses, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the most common. This is a type 4 herpes virus, it is very easy to get infected, since the features of its transmission from person to person are quite simple. And usually the sources of the spread of the virus are people who do not have symptoms. On the planet, more than half of the children are already infected with the Epstein-Barr virus. And among adults, almost the entire population has the Epstein virus in the body. In the article, we will take a closer look at the Epstein-Barr virus, its symptoms and treatment, and also talk about what diseases it causes and how it is diagnosed.


There are four types of Epstein-Barr virus infection:

Airborne way. Herpes type 4 is transmitted by airborne droplets, only when the source of infection is an acute form of Epstein-Barr virus infection. In this case, when sneezing, Epstein virus particles can easily be airborne, penetrating into a new organism.

household contacts. In this case, first of all, we are talking about all household contacts with the infected, including shaking hands. And at the same time, it is not necessary for the carrier to have an acute form of the disease, since another year and a half after an acute Epstein-Barr virus infection, the carrier can easily infect others by contact.

Sexual contact and kissing. Herpes of the fourth type is easily transmitted through all forms of sexual interaction, as well as through kissing. It is believed that in a third of all infected people, Epstein-Barr can live in saliva for the rest of their lives, so it is very easy to get infected with it.

From pregnant to child. If Epstein-Barr is found in the blood of a pregnant woman, then it can easily be transmitted from her to the fetus through the placenta, and in the future to the child.

Of course, realizing how easy it is to get infected with the Epstein-Barr virus, the question arises, what about blood transfusions or organ transplants. Of course, it is also easy to get Epstein-Barr through transfusions and organ transplants, but the above routes of transmission are the most common.


Let’s look at what diseases are caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and the symptoms of these diseases. The most well-known whitening that Epstein virus causes is infectious mononucleosis, but apart from this, Epstein-Barr herpes can lead to Nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma , CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and Lymphogranulomatosis. And now we will analyze these diseases and their symptoms in more detail.

Infectious mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is a disease that often occurs in young children. It is accompanied primarily by elevated body temperature up to 40 degrees, inflammation of the tonsils and an increase in submandibular lymph nodes. Inexperienced doctors often confuse mononucleosis with tonsillitis. But in the later stages, an increase in the spleen is observed, such symptoms usually reveal infectious mononucleosis. Less commonly, the liver may become enlarged, which can lead to hepatitis.

Infectious mononucleosis is also called AVIEB (acute Epstein-Barr virus infection). The incubation period for this disease ranges from one week to three weeks, but can last up to one and a half months.


Lymphogranulomatosis is a malignant tumor. This disease is also called Hodgkin ‘s Lymphoma . This granuloma is theoretically associated with Epstein-Barr for several reasons, and one of them is the association of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with mononucleosis.

Of the symptoms, one can distinguish an increase in lymph nodes not only under the jaw, but also above the collarbones. This occurs at the very beginning of the disease and passes without pain. And then the disease begins to affect the internal organs.

Burkitt ‘s lymphoma

Burkitt ‘s lymphoma is a very high-grade non- Hodgkin ‘s lymphoma that develops from B-lymphocytes and tends to spread outside the lymphatic system, such as into the bone marrow, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid. Source – Wikipedia.

If left untreated, lymphoma can lead to death very quickly. Of the symptoms, it is necessary to highlight the increase in internal organs, as a rule, in the abdominal region. Also, Burkitt’s lymphoma can lead to constipation and cause bleeding. It happens that with this disease the jaw and neck swell.

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Another tumor disease, but with an unusual localization, namely in the nose. The tumor strengthens in the nasopharynx, and then metastasizes to the lymph nodes. Most often, Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is found in Eastern peoples.

The symptoms of this disease are initially associated with difficulty breathing through the nose, then problems with the ears begin, the person seems to gradually lose his hearing and feels discomfort in the area of the auricles.

chronic fatigue syndrome

The so-called chronic fatigue syndrome is a very controversial disease. It is associated with Epstein-Barr and other herpetic manifestations in the body. In the 80s in Nevada there were a large number of people (about two hundred people) with similar depressive symptoms and general weakness of the body. In the study, Epstein-Barr or other herpesviruses were found in all people. But later in Britain, it was nevertheless proved that CFS exists. In addition to the Epstein-Barr virus, chronic fatigue syndrome can also be caused by cytomegalovirus, Coxsackie virus and others.

Of the symptoms, constant fatigue should be distinguished, a person cannot sleep, his head hurts and he feels constant oppression of the body and weakness of the body.


Checking the immune response to Epstein-Barr is done using serological blood tests. The analysis does not reveal the DNA of the Epstein-Barr virus, but how the immune system reacts to it.

In order to understand the diagnosis, it is necessary to disassemble some concepts:

IgG antibodies are class G immunoglobulins;

and IgM antibodies are class M immunoglobulins;

EA, early antigen;

EBNA, nuclear antigen;

VCA – capsid antigen.

In the case of the production of certain immunoglobulins to specific antigens, the status of infection with EBV is diagnosed .

To understand the diagnosis of EBV infection in more detail, it is necessary to consider class M immunoglobulins to the capsid antigen, as well as class G immunoglobulins to capsid , early and nuclear antigens:

IgM to VCA. With the production of class M immunoglobulins to the capsid antigen, the acute stage of infection is diagnosed. That is, either the primary infection was within six months, or there was a relapse of the disease.

IgG to VCA. With the production of class G immunoglobulins to the capsid antigen, an acute form of the disease is diagnosed, which was transferred about a month ago. And also this result can be obtained in the future, since the disease has already been transferred by the body.

IgG to EBNA. The production of class G immunoglobulins to the nuclear antigen indicates that the body has good immunity to Epstein-Barr, which means that the person is completely healthy, which indicates that about six months have passed since infection.

IgG to EA. The production of class G immunoglobulin to an early antigen again tells us about the acute stage of the disease. Which indicates a period of 7 to 180 days of Epstein-Barr’s stay in the body from the onset of infection.

Initially, when diagnosing Epstein- barr , serological tests are done. If the analysis is completely negative, doctors resort to PCR (polymerase chain reaction). This analysis aims to identify the DNA of the virus. If the analysis is negative, this may indicate not only that the person has not encountered Epstein- barr , but there may be a serious immunodeficiency.


Treatment for Epstein-Barr virus occurs either on an outpatient basis or during hospitalization. It all depends on how easy it will be to treat the Epstein virus, and this is determined by the severity of the disease. If there has been a reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus infection, then often Epstein-Barr treatment occurs without hospitalization.

In order to treat the Epstein virus more effectively, a special diet is provided in which they resort to mechanical or chemical sparing .

If we talk about how Epstein-Barr is treated with medications, it is necessary to distinguish three types of drugs:

Antiviral. Acyclovir is an ineffective Epstein-Barr drug and treatment with this antiviral agent is best started if there are no more effective drugs. Of the better antiviral drugs, Isoprinosine , Valtrex and Famvir can be distinguished .

interferon inductors. Of the interferon inducers, perhaps it is worth stopping at drugs such as Neovir – it is good because it can be taken from infancy. And also from good preparations there are also such as Cycloferon and Anaferon.

Interferon preparations. Of the interferons, Viferon and Kipferon have proven themselves well on the market , they are also convenient in that they can be taken even by newborn children.

Do not self-medicate and prescribe all of the above medications on your own. Do not forget that all antiviral drugs can cause serious side effects and lead to consequences. In addition, any drugs, including interferons, must be selected individually.


So, we figured out how the Epstein-Barr virus is treated, and now let’s look at what the danger of the Epstein-Barr virus is. The main danger of Epstein-Barr is autoimmune inflammation, because when Epstein-Barr enters the bloodstream, the immune system starts producing antibodies, the very immunoglobulins that were written about above. Immunoglobulins, in turn, form the so-called CIC (circulating immune complexes) with Epstein-Barr cells. And these complexes begin to spread throughout the body through the bloodstream and getting into any organ cause autoimmune diseases, of which there are quite a lot.

Summing up, it is worth noting that the Epstein-Barr virus is very common among mankind. It usually occurs in the chronic stage and goes unnoticed with a good immune system, but with immunodeficiency, Epstein-Barr can lead to quite serious illnesses and complications, so if you suspect an exacerbation of EBV infection or primary infection, urgently consult a doctor to quickly to diagnose and treat it.

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