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Epstein-Barr virus is in the herpes family of viruses that causes infectious mononucleosis.
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.
The Epstein-Barr 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.
Epstein-Barr virus can affect anyone, but the infection most often occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 35, especially teenagers.
The incubation period for Epstein-Barr virus is usually seven to 14 days in children and adolescents. The incubation period in adults is longer; at times it may be 30 to 50 days.
Where the Epstein-Barr virus lasts more than six months, it is frequently called chronic EBV infection.
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.
Symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus
An Epstein-Barr virus 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:
A sore throat that lasts two weeks or more
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groin
A persistent fever (usually about 102 degrees F)
Malaise (a vague feeling of discomfort)
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.
Although the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis usually resolve in one or two months, the EBV remains dormant in cells in the throat and blood for the rest of the person's life. Periodically, the virus can reactivate and can be found in the saliva of infected persons. This reactivation usually occurs without symptoms of illness. EBV also establishes a lifelong dormant infection in some cells of the body's immune system.
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Our tests are not a substitute for seeing your doctor, especially if you are suffering symptoms. Our doctors will interpret your results based on the information you have provided, but will not diagnose, consult or provide any treatment. You will be advised to see your doctor for any necessary follow-up action.
We will send you your Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV-DNA) blood test sample collection kit together with the details of a convenient clinic where you can go and have your sample taken.
Your Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV-DNA) test includes 1st class postage and packaging for you to send your blood sample directly to our laboratory for analysis. If you live in an area where you cannot rely on the post or you simply want to ensure that your sample arrives at the laboratory the following day, you may wish to send your blood sample guaranteed next day delivery for extra reassurance.
Your blood sample will be analysed at one of our chosen laboratories. You can be assured of fast, accurate results from one of our accredited independent providers of clinical diagnostic tests.
Our medical team will comment on out-of-range blood test results and give you follow-up advice where necessary. If you need it, a PDF copy of your Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV-DNA) test results can be downloaded for your doctor.
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