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Question
Posted by: Julie | 2003/01/13

Epstein Barr Virus

I was diagnosed by a specialist after a blood test last year as having Epstein Barr Virus. I was doing a lot of cycling at the time, and obviously my immune system was low, so any over extended exercise resulted in me getting sick - 6 courses of antibiotics in 2002! I started getting heart palpitations doing moderate aerobics, so have not done any cycling for the last 6 months.
I generally feel well, and have read about CFS, and dont believe I have that??? My question is that there is a lot of confusing information about EBV on the net, and links saying it causes a miriad of diseases.....and most people think I have CFS or Yuppie Flu when I say I have EBV. I know a virus cannot be cured and I am taking a host of immune building pills etc. Do you have any suggestions for me on how to manage the virus (I know it is a chronic condition) - obviously if I start cycling again I will have to take it really easy. I know that antibiotics also hammer your system, so I need time to build my immune system again. Any advice appreciated. Thanks

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Our expert says:
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Julie, the main disease caused by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever). EBV has also been associated with African Burkitt's lymphoma, certain B-cell neoplasms in immunocompromised patients (especially those with organ allografts, HIV infection, or ataxia-telangiectasia), and nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
With glandular fever the tiredness may start a week or so before the other symptoms, but very few people seek medical advice for it. The temperature may reach 39.5° C to 40.5° C. The throat pain and the fever are the first symptoms to go (within 1 to 2 weeks), but the swollen glands and tiredness may persist for quite some time. (Over the past several years, many investigators have identified patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, an illness characterized by fatigue, mild cognitive dysfunction, and, in some cases, low-grade fever and lymphadenopathy. Although some have speculated that EBV plays a role in the pathogenesis of chronic fatigue syndrome, little objective evidence supports this hypothesis. Occasional case reports have supported an association between chronic EBV infection and a syndrome of fever, interstitial pneumonitis, pancytopenia, and uveitis. These patients should be distinguished from those with chronic fatigue syndrome, who have no objective symptoms or signs).
After the primary glandular fever infection, the virus will stay in the person for life and will be shed periodically from the throat. At any given time, 15-25% of healthy Epstein-Barr virus positive people will be shedding the virus from their throats and will in other words be infective.
If you want to know more about glandular fever, you can mail me at nedoc@mweb.co.za and I’ll send you a copy of something I wrote a while ago. Good luck.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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