- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME
- Hepatitis C Virus
- Epstein - Barr Virus
- Human Herpesvirus 6
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Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is a common human virus that causes infectious mononucleosis and plays a role in the emergence of two rare forms of cancer: Burkitt's lymphoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Some doctors and medical textbooks describe and diagnose EBV as infectious mononucleosis and vice-versa. To accommodate this association, this health profile will use EBV and mononucleosis ("mono") interchangeably.
Epstein-Barr virus is in the herpes family of viruses and most people will become infected with EBV sometime during their lives. In the United States, as many as 95 percent of adults between 35 and 40 years of age have been infected. Infants become susceptible to EBV as soon as maternal protection present at birth disappears.
The infection develops slowly with such mild symptoms that it may initially be indistinguishable from a cold or the flu. As the condition progresses the symptoms may include:
These symptoms can be mild or so severe that throat pain impedes swallowing and fever reaches 105 degrees F. Some people also experience a rash, eye pain, photophobia (discomfort with bright light), a swollen spleen or liver infection.
Infectious mononucleosis, or "mono," is a contagious viral illness that initially attacks the lymph nodes in the neck and throat. When these tissues become less effective in fighting infection, sore throats, swelling of the nodes and fever may result.
Mono is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which is named after the scientists who first identified it in the mid-1960s. The virus enters the lymph nodes and attacks the lymphocytes (the white blood cells manufactured there). As the white blood cells come into contact with the virus, they change shape and multiply. At first, there are no symptoms because it takes several weeks before enough of the altered cells can accumulate to generate infection.
The virus can affect anyone, but the infection most often occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 35, especially teenagers. It can occur as an epidemic or in single cases, and it is believed to be spread by infectious saliva.
The incubation period for the disease is usually 7 to 14 days in children and adolescents. The incubation period in adults is longer; at times it may be 30 to 50 days.
If the virus lasts more than six months, it is frequently called chronic EBV infection. Some doctors think EBV is the cause of a chronic condition called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), although this has not been definitively proven.
Mononucleosis spreads by contact with moisture from the mouth and throat of a person who is infected with the virus. kissing, sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, and toothbrushes, or touching anything that has been near the mouth of an infected person, may result in transmission of the disease.