Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also known as human herpes virus 4, is a member of the herpes virus family. It is one of the most common human viruses. EBV is found all over the world. Most people get infected with EBV at some point in their lives. EBV spreads most commonly through bodily fluids, primarily saliva. EBV can cause infections mononucleosis infectious form of EBV. Once you get infected with EBV you will have it for life. Symptoms of EBV infection can include;
- inflamed throat
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck and arm pits
- swollen and sore tonsils
- enlarged spleen
- swollen liver
- Loss of appetite
Many people become infected with EBV in childhood. EBV infections in children usually do not cause symptoms, or the symptoms are not distinguishable from other mild, brief childhood illnesses. People, who get symptoms from EBV infection, usually teenagers or adults, get better in few weeks. However, some people may feel fatigued for several weeks or even months and if they push themselves too much may develop a chronic fatigue syndrome. In our Clinic we often see a mature age patients with complications of EBV, which are discussed below.
After you get an EBV infection, the virus becomes latent (inactive) in your body forever. In some cases, the virus may reactivate. This does not always cause evident symptoms, but people with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop symptoms if EBV reactivates. For example prolonged physical or emotional stress and use of antibiotics can promote EBV activation and complications. Usually people do nothing about EBV unless they develop a chronic fatigue syndrome or an autoimmune condition. But there are tests available to find out if you have a past or an active EBV infection.
EBV spreads most commonly through bodily fluids, especially saliva. However, EBV can also spread through blood and semen during sexual contact, blood transfusions, and organ transplantations.
EBV can be spread by using objects, such as a toothbrush or drinking glass that an infected person recently used. The virus probably survives on an object at least as long as the object remains moist.
The first time a person gets infected with EBV (primary EBV infection) he can spread the virus for weeks and even before you have symptoms. Once the virus is in your body, it stays there in a latent (inactive) state. If the virus reactivates, you can potentially spread EBV to others no matter how much time has passed since the initial infection. We have seen patients in our Clinic with a secondary infections of EBV in the blood, spleen, thyroids and other body organs. EBV usually attacks the weaker body organ/s, this is where an autoimmunity may develop.
The danger of any chronic infections whether t is viral, mycoplasma or fungal is that it can cause so call “molecular mimicry’ when organism creates an antibody to fight the pathogen, that it is identical to certain amino acids in the body. Thus the body begins to attack itself causing autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, rheumatic arthritis, diabetes, Hashimotos and the list goes on. Autoimmunity is on increase and EBV infection is one of the triggers.
Patients with active EBV infection should avoid diet high in arginine (amino acid) such as almonds, peanuts, beans, cashew, raisins, soy protein, ginseng, pecans chocolate, turkey. On the other hand food containing lysine such as halibut, tuna, brewer’s yeast, lamb, lentils, mung beans, sprouts or oats should be increased. Sometimes people take supplements and herbs which may contribute toward replication of viruses therefore it is sensible to consult a naturopath or a herbalist who will advise you accordingly.
About the Author
Danuta Hulajko is a holistic practitioner, international speaker, founder of the DH Natural Medicine Clinic and www.healingremedies.com.au , Southern Highlands, NSW. She specialises in anti-aging, autoimmunity, digestive disorders and heavy metals chelation. For more information please go to our website. You can follow Danuta Hulajko work, events, seminars, expos, latest health research, her health tips and advice on Facebook and LinkedIn