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How does the Epstein-Barr virus affect nerves?

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The Epstein-Barr virus that causes mononucleosis affects nerves by causing sharp pain and damage to the sensory nerves, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The Epstein-Barr virus can also cause peripheral neuropathy that damages the communication between the brain and the spinal cord.

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People with peripheral neuropathy experience symptoms such as muscle weakness, a pricking sensation and numbness or tingling, explains the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The body may become abnormally sensitive to the touch. Severe cases of peripheral neuropathy produce symptoms such as gland or organ dysfunction, muscle wasting, burning pain and paralysis. Nerves that are damaged as a result of the Epstein-Barr virus cause patients to develop symptoms that impact urination, sweating, digestion and sexual function.

People with the Epstein-Barr virus often carry the virus that does not produce symptoms, states WebMD. Symptoms can take four to six weeks to develop and include fatigue, lack of appetite, fever, a rash and a sore throat. Some patients develop swollen glands in the neck and sore or weak muscles. The Epstein-Barr virus can progress into problems with the nervous system, diarrhea and ear infections in children, Guillain-Barre syndrome and certain cancers of the throat and nose.

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