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Epstein-Barr Virus Infection - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Epstein-Barr Virus Infection - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection affects over 95% people in the United States alone. The upcoming passages provide in-depth information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this disease.
Stephen Rampur
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
EBV is a commonly found human virus which belongs to the 'herpes' group of viruses. It causes contagious mononucleosis and may be the reason for causing two uncommon kinds of cancer, like Burkitt's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. It is the first virus to be linked to human malignance and is a human tumor virus.
EBV infection mostly affects people between the age of 35 - 40 years. Normally, younger children affected with EBV do not show any symptoms, but in very rare cases, exhibit mild symptoms. Some physicians and medical studies refer to this infection as the 'kissing disease'.
Causes
EBV disease or mononucleosis, also called 'mono', is a transmissible viral illness. In the initial stages, the virus attacks the lymph glands in the neck and throat. It also attacks the white blood cells (WBCs) produced in the lymph glands, which causes these cells to modify their shape and multiply.
There are no indications of the symptoms at first, as it may take a few weeks for a sufficient number of infected WBCs to accumulate and generate complications. The infection spreads through saliva and can spread in individual cases. It can also spread during a disease outbreak. After the pathogen enters the body, the first symptoms normally appear after 7 - 14 days in kids and teenagers, whereas the incubation time in adults is longer, approximately 30 - 50 days.
In a few severe cases, the virus may stay in the body for over six months. Such a condition is known as chronic EBV infection. Some physicians and medical professionals consider it to be a cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); however, firm evidences supporting it have not come up as yet. Kissing disease spreads if the infected person's pharynx comes in contact with the moisture in another person's mouth. This contagion spreads due to kissing, sharing drinking glasses, using other's toothbrushes, or anything which has been in contact with the saliva of the infected individual.
Symptoms
The development of the contagion starts showing mild symptoms which may be exactly like the symptoms of cold or influenza. As the infection spreads further and the condition worsens, more symptoms are experienced, such as a sore throat which lasts for around two weeks; swelling in the lymph glands of the neck, armpits, and groin area; high fever; fatigue; and physical uneasiness.
The symptoms experienced by an affected person may be mild or so serious that he/she wouldn't be able to swallow food. The person may also experience fever which may reach around 105ºF. Some individuals may even experience a rash, eye pain or photalgia, swelling in the spleen, or an infection in the liver.
Even though the symptoms of mono normally disappear in one or two months, the EBV hibernates in the cells of the throat and blood for the entire lifespan. During this period, the virus may cause problems quite frequently. The symptoms may manifest in the form of sickness or fever, and even the cells of the immune system may get infected.
Treatment
In several cases of this viral infection, a specific treatment is not essential, as the illness may be fixed for a particular time span. Moreover, antibiotics have no effect on the virus. Physicians recommend a complete bed rest and sufficient consumption of fluids. The patients regain strength after the fever disappears, and they can carry on with their normal everyday work activities.
Nevertheless, the complication may lead to a streptococcal infection of the throat for which the doctor would prescribe the use of antibiotics. Physicians prescribe corticoid medicines if there is a swelling in the spleen, and in such cases, one should not participate in strenuous activities, like lifting, pushing, or any kind of sports, which may damage it severely.
Scientists and researchers are trying to invent a vaccine which would be able to provide protection from this disease. However, they have not been fully successful at it due to the virus' hiding properties. If any of the above-mentioned symptoms are experienced, one should immediately contact the physician at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.