Epstein-Barr Virus and Associated Ailments

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also known as human herpesvirus 4, is a highly contagious virus that belongs to the herpesvirus family. It is one of the most common human viruses worldwide, affecting more than 90% of the world’s population. EBV is known to cause infectious mononucleosis, also known as mono, and is primarily transmitted through saliva.

Transmission and Symptoms of EBV Infection

EBV infection is primarily spread through saliva, but it can also be transmitted through genital secretions during sexual activity or through blood transfusions or organ transplants. Most people infected with EBV do not develop symptoms or only experience mild symptoms that are easily mistaken for other viral illnesses. However, some people may experience symptoms such as fatigue, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and enlarged spleen.

EBV and Cancer

In some cases, EBV infection can lead to cancer. The virus can go dormant after the initial infection and reactivate later, leading to long-lasting latent infections that are associated with a number of cancers, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and gastric cancer. Researchers at the University of California San Diego discovered how EBV can trigger cancer by inducing cleavage in human chromosome 11. Researchers found that cancer tumors with detectable EBV had higher levels of chromosome 11 abnormalities. These abnormalities are caused when a viral protein called EBNA1 binds to a site on chromosome 11 to cause breakage.

EBV and Autoimmune Diseases

There is some evidence that EBV infection is associated with a higher risk of developing certain autoimmune diseases, including dermatomyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome. However, the exact relationship between EBV and autoimmune diseases is not fully understood.

Childhood Disorders Associated with EBV

EBV infection has also been associated with two childhood disorders: Alice in Wonderland syndrome, which causes distorted perception of time, space, and body image, and acute cerebellar ataxia, which affects coordination and balance.



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