Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also known as human herpes virus 4, is a member of the herpes virus family. It is one of the most common human viruses. EBV is found all over the world. Most people get infected with EBV at some point in their lives. EBV spreads most commonly through bodily fluids, primarily saliva. EBV can cause infectious mononucleosis, also called mono, and other illnesses.
For several years now research has displayed what are believed to be links between EBV, environmental factors, Vitamin D and the onset of Multiple Sclerosis. At the point in time there is no specific treatment for Epstein-Barr virus however some research is taking place and the research may change the course of people contacting MS in the future.
EBV is known to work in phases: it has an initial active phase of viral activity, which is then followed by a latent (hidden) phase where the virus lies dormant inside B cells of the immune system indefinitely. It is not yet clear which phase of the EBV infectious cycle is most important in the development and activity of MS. The reactivation of other viruses such as human herpes virus 6 (HHV6) has also been implicated in MS disease activity.
Several studies by Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPH, and his team at the Harvard School of Public Health have suggested that EBV is involved in MS.
The studies found that:
- Antibodies (immune proteins that indicate a person has been exposed) to EBV were significantly higher in people who eventually developed MS than in control samples of people who did not get the disease.
- MS risk increased significantly following infection with EBV, thereby demonstrating that EBV was in the body before MS developed.
- People with a specific immune-related gene and high levels of antibodies to EBV in their blood were nine times more likely to develop MS than those without the gene and with low levels of the antibodies.
- Current or previous smokers with the highest levels of EBV antibodies were 70 percent more likely to develop MS than those with neither risk factor.
Symptoms of EBV:
- inflamed throat
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- enlarged spleen
- swollen liver
Many people become infected with EBV in childhood. EBV infections in children usually do not cause symptoms, or the symptoms are not distinguishable from other mild, brief childhood illnesses. People who get symptoms from EBV infection, usually teenagers or adults, get better in 2 to 4 weeks. However, some people may feel fatigued for several weeks or even months.
After you get an EBV infection, the virus becomes latent (inactive) in your body. In some cases, the virus may reactivate. This does not always cause symptoms, but people with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop symptoms if EBV reactivates.
EBV Spreads Easily:
EBV is spread by saliva through:
- sharing drinks and food
- using the same cups, eating utensils, or toothbrushes
- having contact with toys that children have drooled on
EBV spreads most commonly through bodily fluids, especially saliva. However, EBV can also spread through blood and semen during sexual contact, blood transfusions, and organ transplantations.
EBV can be spread by using objects, such as a toothbrush or drinking glass, that an infected person recently used. The virus probably survives on an object at least as long as the object remains moist. There is no evidence that disinfecting the objects will prevent EBV from spreading.
The first time a person gets infected with EBV (primary EBV infection) it can spread the virus for weeks and even before you have symptoms. Once the virus is in your body, it stays there in a latent (inactive) state. If the virus reactivates, you can potentially spread EBV to others no matter how much time has passed since the initial infection.
Diagnosing EBV infection can be challenging since symptoms are similar to other illnesses. EBV infection can be confirmed with a blood test that detects antibodies. About 90% of adults have antibodies that show that they have a current or past EBV infection.
Prevention & Treatment:
There is no vaccine to protect against EBV infection. You can help protect yourself by not kissing or sharing drinks, food, or personal items, like toothbrushes, with people who have EBV infection.
There is no specific treatment for EBV. However, some things can be done to help relieve symptoms, including
- drinking fluids to stay hydrated
- getting plenty of rest
- taking over-the-counter medications for pain and fever
More Information on EBV:
Recently EBV was found in brain neurons: Click Here To Read The Article – EBV found in Brain Neurons