Epstein Barr Virus

Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) is a double stranded DNA, enveloped virus that has a large genome encoding 200 proteins.  Epstein Barr vVrus, also known as Herpes virus 4 (HHV4), belongs to the gammaherpesvirinae subgroup of the Herpesvirus family.

EBV is widely distributed and is estimated to affect around 90% of the human population. In developing countries, most children contract EBV infection at an early age. Whereas, in developed countries, primary EBV infection is more common in adolescents and adults. The Epstein-Barr virus is commonly spread from human-to-human through saliva and other body fluids (Centers for disease control and prevention).

In most cases, EBV Infection is asymptomatic but some individuals develop infectious mononucleosis, a condition that is generally self-limiting but can cause prolonged fatigue lasting for several months. After primary EBV infection, the virus remains latent and can re-activate under certain circumstances. In immunocompromised patients, EBV infection is associated with various malignancies, autoimmune disease and other chronic and acute illnesses.

Epstein-Barr virus primarily targets B-lymphocytes but is also reported to infect epithelial cells, T-cells, Natural killer cells, smooth muscle cells and monocytes (Hutt-Fletcher, L.M.).

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