Blood tests that look for antibodies or a particular type of white blood cell diagnose the Epstein-Barr virus, according to WebMD. The body's immune system makes antibodies in response to the virus, and the white blood cells try to fight off the infection.
The Epstein-Barr virus causes mononucleosis, WebMD explains. Doctors look for an enlarged spleen, swollen liver and white patches on the tonsils to diagnose mononucleosis. It is difficult to determine if a patient has the disease without a medical exam because its symptoms are similar to those of the flu or a cold.
Many people carry the Epstein-Barr virus without getting sick, WebMD reports. The virus stays in the body and can become active again years later.
Individuals who do get sick develop symptoms between four and six weeks after exposure, WebMD states. The contagious virus spreads by exposure to saliva, blood or semen. Mononucleosis is often associated with kissing.
Children who develop mononucleosis have typical flu-like symptoms, but teens tend to have more obvious signs of the disease, notes WebMD. Symptoms include swollen glands in the neck, fatigue, rash, sore throat and muscle aches. Patients also have fever, lack of appetite and weakness.
As of late 2015, there is no treatment or vaccine for Epstein-Barr virus, states WebMD. To prevent getting the virus, people should avoid sharing toothbrushes, glasses or silverware with an infected patients. They should also avoid sex and kissing.