New Test For Epstein-Barr Virus

EBV 101

Epstein-Barr virus (EPV) is one of the most common viruses in the world, and is a member of the herpes virus family. Most people will be exposed to and infected with EPV at some point in their lives. Statistics show that about 95% of American adults between the ages of 35 and 40 years of age have been infected. Children often become infected with EBV; however, the symptoms tend to be indistinguishable from other childhood diseases since they tend to be mild and are of brief duration. Should EBV be contracted during adolescence or young adulthood, 30% to 50% of the time it causes infectious mononucleosis (IM).

The Symptoms Go But The Virus Remains In The Body

Even though the symptoms associated with infectious mononucleosis resolve within a month or two, latent cells of the virus remain in the throat and blood for the rest of a person's life. If the virus reactivates, which periodically happens, it is frequently found in the saliva of the infected person. However, there are usually no symptoms accompanying the recurrence. The immune system is also affected with a lifelong dormant infection in some of the cells. Burkett's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma are two very rare cancers in which EBV cells in the immune system plays a significant role.

Symptoms Of Infectious Mononucleosis

IM presents with fatigue, fever, listlessness, swelling of the lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, and symptoms that are consistent with other types of infectious diseases. Very often, antibiotics are recommended as a method of treatment for EBV and IM. However, since IM is viral and not bacterial, antibiotics are of little use. Ibuprophen and painkillers can be used to treat the fever, along with rest and plenty of fluids. Aspirin is not recommended as it can lead to Reyes Syndrome.

Diagnostic Testing

Two of the most frequently used tests to diagnose infectious mononucleosis are the "mono spot test" and the heterophile antibody test. These test results are diagnostic and if they come back positive, no further testing is required. There are also lab tests for EBV antibodies that can measure the presence and/or the concentration of no less than six EBV antibodies. Reviewing and interpreting these tests can provide information regarding the stage of the infection. However, they are very expensive and not necessary for diagnosing infectious mono.

A New Test To Detect EBV

In June of 2009, a company in France developed a new test for the diagnosis of IM. bioMerieux, well known in the in vitro diagnostics field, created VIDAS EBV, a diagnostic tool for doctors who are checking for infectious disease. This test lessens the incidence of inappropriate administration of antibiotics, and gives the doctor information to share with the patient. Such recommendations as the curtailing of sports activities (which may lead to a ruptured spleen in the case of IM), or staying away from alcohol and certain medications which cause complications with EBV, can be made early in the illness.

The test consists of three markers that must be used together in order to obtain correct data. VIDAS EBV has received CE approval and test results are available in only 40 minutes.

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