Epstein-Barr Virus - EBV

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a pervasive virus that infects over 90% of the world’s population by adulthood, causes infectious mononucleosis (IM) in immunocompetent individuals and lymphoproliferative disease in immunocompromised patients.     Most people are infected in childhood, at which time the infection is most often subclinical, but the virus remains as a permanent, latent infection and can reactivate. Early and accurate diagnosis of EBV IM is important because it allows clinicians to create a targeted treatment plan and avoid the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

Several different tests and methods are available to diagnose EBV infection and the resulting diseases. Rapid heterophile antibody testing (also referred to as Monospot) is often used as a first-line test in the diagnosis of EBV IM because it is inexpensive and has a fast turnaround. However, false-negative results can occur in young children and early in the course of the illness, necessitating follow-up testing by EBV-specific serology. EBV-specific serology may also be used in the place of heterophile antibody testing as an initial test.  Molecular evaluation by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and histologic examination with in situ hybridization (ISH) are used for the diagnosis and monitoring of EBV-related lymphoproliferative diseases and cancers.

Tabs Content
Content Review: 
October 2019

Last Update: October 2019