Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Last Updated: July 28, 2018

Definition - What does Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) mean?

The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis or mono. It is a common type of herpes virus. Not everyone who carries the virus will become ill, but those who do may experience flu-like symptoms such as weakness, fever, sore throat, and swollen glands. Epstein-Barr Virus can be passed from one person to another through the exchange of bodily fluids. The Epstein-Barr Virus is also called the human herpesvirus 4.

WorkplaceTesting explains Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is often though of as a teenager's disease because of its reputation of being passed during kissing. However, the virus is a concern at all ages and can be a real drain on worker productivity. It is most often passed via an infected person's saliva. A shared glass or kiss may spread the disease from one person to another. EBV can also be harbored in stagnant water and workers exposed to such conditions (such as survey crews or utility repair crews who must enter stagnant water at times) may be at risk. EBV can be difficult to track because it can take up to six weeks for a person to develop symptoms of an infection while others may not become sick at all. Once a person has recovered from mono, they may continue to carry virus for months or even years.

Some medical professionals recommend screening for the presence of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) antibodies because the virus has been identified as a potential cause of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), a cancer affecting the ear, nose and throat. Because NPC is often asymptomatic in its early stage, causing it to go undetected in some patients until the late or terminal stage. However, screening for the early antigen EBV antibody, EA IgA, facilitates the early detection of this cancer. Monitoring levels of EBV antibodies can also help physicians monitor the progression of NPC and the effectiveness of an individual's cancer treatment.

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