EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) or human herpesvirus 4 (HHV4) is a member of the herpes virus family. It is one of the most common human viruses, believed to be spread in humans since thousands of years ago.
EBV can cause many diseases, but those better known (perhaps) are infectious mononucleosis, also called mono or kissing disease, although kissing is just one of the ways to catch mono. Mono spreads most commonly through saliva, bodily fluids, sexual intercourse, and sharing things.
With the nickname “kissing disease”, those most exposed to mono would be teens, who have experience kissing, and adults. In Thailand, more than 95% of teenagers aged 12 to 14 were infected, and nearly 100% of those aged 35 and up were infected.
Nonetheless, most people overlook EBV because it often remains dormant in our body, showing no symptoms until certain events trigger/activate them, such as a weakening body. Even when there are symptoms, they might be so minor that people don’t care, such as sore throat, tonsilitis, swollen lymph nodes, fever, body ache, fatigue or feeling extremely tired, or lack of appetite. These symptoms could be easily treated with medicines.
However, some people could get severe symptoms. This is often the case for those with weakening bodies or sick with an immunodeficiency disease, taking immunosuppressive drugs, or doing chemotherapy. Some cases may be caused by re-infection from within the body or by contracting a new infection from others.
After being cured, the body develops immunity to EBV, resulting in blood tests showing antibodies associated with EBV (EBV IgM, IgG). You can tell if the infection has recently recovered or been cured for some time now from blood tests.
To summarize, EBV is one of the most prevalent human viruses. Most people get infected with EBV at some point in their lives because EBV is highly contagious. EBV is commonly transmitted through bodily fluids, such as kissing, sexual intercourse, or object sharing. However, unless the immune system is compromised, EBV often remains dormant or only manifests minor symptoms. Even if infected, it is easily cured on its own. As a result, health care is critical. It is always highly recommended to eat foods from all five food groups and exercise on a regular basis. Get enough sleep or strengthen your immune system, so your body is ready to fight any infection.