Epstein-Barr virus

Epstein-Barr virus

[ep-stahyn bahr]
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpesvirus that is the major cause of infectious mononucleosis and is associated with a number of cancers, particularly lymphomas in immunosuppressed persons, including persons with AIDS. Epstein-Barr is a ubiquitous virus, so common that it has been difficult to determine whether it is the cause of certain diseases or whether it is simply there as an artifact. In Third World nations, most children are infected with EBV; in most industrialized nations, about 50% of the people are infected. Research has found that all of the lymphomas associated with AIDS and most lymphomas in other immunocompromised persons are connected with latent EBV infection. EBV has been found in biopsy tissue of patients with Hodgkin's disease, breast cancer, and some smooth muscle tumors. EBV also was formerly suspected as the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (originally named chronic EBV syndrome).

Virus of the Herpesviridae family that is the major cause of acute infectious mononucleosis. The virus, named for two of its discoverers, infects only salivary gland cells and one type of white blood cell. Saliva is the only bodily fluid that has been proved to contain infectious EBV particles. In less-developed nations, infection with EBV occurs in almost all children before the age of 5 and is not associated with recognizable symptoms. When EBV infection is delayed until the teen or early adult years, the body commonly responds differently, resulting in mononucleosis. Other, rarer disorders have also been linked with EBV, including certain cancers. There are no specific treatments for any form of EBV infection, and no vaccines have been developed.

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