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Epstein-Barr Virus

Discovery, Disease, And Research, Origin And Development, Disease Transmission And Prevention

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is part of the family of human herpes viruses. Infectious mononucleosis (IM) is the most common disease manifestation of this virus which, once established in the host, can never be completely eradicated. Very little can be done to treat EBV; most methods can only alleviate resultant symptoms. Sleep and rest—complete bedrest in severe cases—is still the best medicine for sufferers of this virus.

In addition to infectious mononucleosis, EBV has also been identified in association with—although not necessarily believed to cause—as many as 50 different illnesses and diseases, including chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, arthralgia (joint pain without inflammation), and myalgia (muscle pain). While studying aplastic anemia (failure of bone marrow to produce sufficient red blood cells), researchers identified EBV in bone marrow cells of some patients, suggesting the virus may be one causative agent in the disease. Also, several types of cancer can be linked to presence of EBV, particularly in those with suppressed immune systems, for example, suffering from AIDS or having recently undergone kidney or liver transplantation. The diseases include hairy cell leukemia, Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Burkitt's lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system endemic to populations in Africa), and nasopharyngeal carcinoma (cancers of the nose, throat, and thymus gland, particularly prevalent in East Asia). Very recently, EBV has been associated with malignant smooth-muscle tissue tumors in immunocompromised children. Such tumors were found in several children with AIDS and some who had received liver transplants. Conversely, it appears that immunosuppressed adults show no elevated rates of these tumors.

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