Epstein-Barr virus - one of a variety of herpes viruses. Once in the human body, HHV type 4 remains in it forever. But the disease does not manifest itself in all cases, so a person being his carrier may not even be aware of this.
This virus provokes autoimmune and lymphoproliferative diseases. Infection with herpesvirus type 4 occurs, as a rule, even in childhood. And it is in children that the pathologies caused by them are much more frequent than in adults.
As you can see, every person, without exception, can become infected with HHV 4. But the pathologies caused by him appear only when the immune system is weakened.
What it is?
Epstein-Barr virus is transmitted in different ways, but most often the infection occurs through saliva. Children can pick up HF type 4:
- through toys and household items;
- during vaccination;
- with injections (especially intravenous);
- if an infected person gets saliva on the skin or mucous membranes of a healthy child.
Infectious mononucleosis, a disease caused by the herpes virus type 4, in adults often develops when infected with herpesvirus during kisses. Therefore, the pathological process is also called the "kissing disease".
In addition to contact, there are other ways of transmitting Epstein-Barr virus:
- contact and household;
As you can see, this virus can be picked up under any circumstances, and in any place.
After entering the human body, VG cells of the 4th type begin to actively divide. Subsequently, they enter the lymph and bloodstream, and spread throughout the body. Viral varions cause the rapid cloning of abnormal cells that subsequently fill the lymph nodes. It is for this reason that adults and children suffering from the manifestations of the pathological processes caused by HHV type 4 primarily develop lymphadenopathy.
However, as noted earlier, not always the Epstein-Barr virus in the blood is a guarantee of the development of the disease. The main predisposing factor to the onset of characteristic symptoms is a significant weakening of the immune system of an infected person. This can happen when:
- uncontrolled or prolonged use of antibacterial drugs;
- frequent colds;
- strong stress, emotional or nervous overstrain, etc.
In particular, the diseases caused by this type of herpes virus are affected by HIV-infected people. In AIDS, a person’s immunity is practically “zero”, which creates the most comfortable conditions for a long-term finding and active reproduction of HPV cells 4.
The clinical picture caused by HHV type 4 can be confused with the characteristics of the manifestation:
- cytomegalovirus (HHV type 5);
- herpes virus type 6;
- HIV and AIDS;
- anginal form of listerosis;
- hepatitis viral etiology;
- localized diphtheria throat;
- adenovirus infection;
- hematological diseases.
On this basis, only methods of differential diagnosis can confirm the diagnosis or refute it. To determine the type of herpes virus, it is necessary to conduct a urine, blood and saliva test.
Epstein-Barr virus diagnosis
Serological tests help determine the body's response to a virus. With their help, specific antibodies to herpes virus infection of type 4 are determined:
- Group M antibodies (IgM) are detected if the disease occurs in the acute phase, as well as during exacerbation of chronic EBV infection.
- Class G antibodies (IgG) to the capsid antigen. They are detected 3 months after the onset of the acute phase of the disease. They can also be detected throughout the patient's life, even after undergoing the EBV treatment course.
- Class G antibodies (IgG) to early antigen. This group of antibodies is also produced by the immune system during the acute course of the disease caused by herpesvirus 4 type.
- Late class G antibodies to nuclear antigen. They appear in human blood after recovery. This happens approximately 6 months after the end of the course of therapy. Their presence suggests that the body has developed a strong immunity to HHV type 4.
With a positive result, the level of these antibodies significantly exceeds the permissible norms. At the same time, those are established by each laboratory separately. It all depends on the equipment used, technology and units of measurement of AT. As a rule, normal indicators are indicated in special columns in the form with the results of a clinical study.
Biological material in the form of saliva, mucus from the pharynx or oral cavity, secretions from the genitals, etc. is used to detect the DNA of an EB virus using PCR. The polymerase chain reaction is a highly sensitive diagnostic technique, but it is informative only during the period of active reproduction of virus cells. However, the procedure takes into account the fact that it gives the most accurate results when detecting herpes viruses of 1-3 types. With HPV type 4, the accuracy of the test is only 70%. As a consequence, the study of saliva by PCR is only necessary to confirm the presence of an EB virus in the human body.
Another diagnostic procedure that helps confirm or refute HPV 4 infection is liver function tests. In almost 80% of cases, an increased amount of liver enzymes is detected when the herpes virus type 4 enters the bloodstream.
Between the time of infection and the normalization of liver enzymes, as a rule, 3 months elapse. But sometimes high rates may persist for 1 year.
The acute course of Epstein-Barr virus is called infectious mononucleosis. Infection occurs, as a rule, through the mouth, so the pathology is also called "kissing disease".
EBV begins active reproduction in cells forming lymphoid tissue. After 7 days of active activity of the virus in an infected person, the first characteristic symptoms of the disease appear, which are similar to the specific manifestations of ARVI. Patients with infectious mononucleosis complain of:
- an increase and hyperemia of the mucous membranes of the tonsils; parallel to these, a whitish bloom appears on the glands;
- swollen lymph nodes - cervical, occipital, inguinal, axillary;
- fever (febrile and sometimes pyretic);
- pain in the chest and abdomen.
With a pronounced pain syndrome in the sternum or abdomen of a patient, doctors often notice an increase in lymph nodes in the abdominal cavity or mediastinum. In addition, some internal organs increase in size: in particular, the spleen and liver. When conducting a laboratory test of blood, atypical mononuclear cells are detected in a patient. These are young blood cells that are similar to lymphocytes and monocytes.
In infectious mononucleosis, no specific treatment is carried out. First, ordinary antiviral drugs simply will not have any effect. Secondly, it is also inexpedient to use antibacterial or antimycotic drugs. They are appointed only in the case of the accession of a secondary bacterial or fungal infection.
Doctors recommend a patient with infectious mononucleosis:
- comply with bed rest;
- use as much warm liquid as possible;
- take antipyretic drugs;
- gargle with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory solutions or herbal decoctions.
Often, the normalization of body temperature occurs at 5-7 days after the onset of the disease. Lymphadenopathy lasts for 20-30 days, and blood counts stabilize after 4-6 months.
Remarkable. The human body that has undergone infectious mononucleosis, produces specific antibodies of class G, which further protect it from relapse of the pathology caused by HHV type 4.
Chronic EBV infection
If the immune system is not so strong as to withstand the attack of the virus, the transition of the EBV infection to the chronic phase can occur. The second in turn is divided into:
Consider each of the forms of chronic EBV infection separately.
With this form of EBV infection, body temperature reaches subfebrile or febrile marks. At the same time both frequent cases of its increase, and persistent fever are possible. Patients complain of lethargy, drowsiness, fatigue. Muscle or joint pain occurs, lymphadenopathy develops.
This type of disease is characterized by frequent development of intestinal diseases, pathologies of the urinary system, or constant relapses of acute respiratory infections. At the same time, the diseases that have arisen are distinguished by a persistent course and are poorly amenable to therapy.
In this condition, there are frequent recurrences of the characteristic symptoms of infectious mononucleosis. In addition, angina, hepatomegaly and other pathological processes are complemented by the addition of a secondary bacterial and fungal infection. Patients have nausea, intestinal upset, digestive disorders, vomiting.
This form of EBV infection is the most dangerous. It leads to damage to the nervous system and brain, liver, lungs and heart. The patient’s frequent companions are meningitis, encephalitis, myocarditis, pneumonitis, or hepatitis.
If EBV infection occurs in a chronic form, then using the PCR method, specific antibodies or the herpes virus type 4 is detected in the patient's saliva. As a rule, they appear only 3-4 months after infection. However, it is not always possible to rely on these studies, since such deviations are often detected in a healthy person who is a carrier of HHV type 4.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The feeling of fatigue and drowsiness is quite normal, if it occurs as a reaction of the body to intense physical exertion, and passes after a good rest. However, if fatigue and fatigue is a daily state that is in no way connected with the amount of physical work done, besides the malaise tends to progress, it should be alerted. Most likely, in such a situation it will be about chronic fatigue syndrome - CFS.
Recent studies have revealed that the constant feeling of fatigue is often associated with an abnormal activity of herpes infection. Any of the representatives of HHV can cause the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. However, in most cases, the cause of such a deviation becomes precisely Epstein-Barr virus. Most of all CFS are exposed to young people - from 20 to 40 years.
The characteristic manifestations of the pathological condition include:
- constant feeling of weakness;
- body aches;
- muscle weakness;
- low-grade fever;
- nasal congestion or rhinitis;
- sleep disorders;
- depressive states;
- dissatisfaction with life;
- reduced concentration;
- memory impairment;
Psychological abnormalities in CFS are due to the lack of full emotional stress. As a result, the brain is constantly in an overexcited state.
What is the danger of Epstein-Barr virus?
Below are the dangerous consequences of EBV infection that can occur if there is no timely response to the previously described symptoms.
This is an extremely rare phenomenon, occurring mainly in women. The following symptoms of genital lesions may develop due to infection with the DL virus:
- the appearance of small (initially - painless) ulcers on the mucous membranes of the genital organs;
- an increase in ulcers and the appearance of pain in the area of their localization - a symptom that manifests itself as the pathological process progresses;
- enlarged inguinal or axillary lymph nodes.
It is noteworthy that ulcers caused by the activity of HHV type 4, can not be any treatment. Even a highly effective drug Acyclovir, used for genital herpes, in this situation is absolutely useless. But over time, the sores are able to disappear on their own without the risk of re-occurrence.
It is important! The danger of genital ulcers is that a bacterial or fungal infection easily joins the damaged mucous membranes. Depending on the type of microflora, the patient will have to undergo a course of antibiotic therapy or antifungal treatment.
Oncological diseases associated with EBV
To date, among the oncological processes associated with the activity of the human herpes virus 4 types include:
- Burkitt's lymphoma;
- nasopharyngeal carcinoma;
- development of Hodgkin's disease;
- lymphoproliferative disease.
Consider the main features of each of the above pathological processes.
This deviation is often found in African preschool children. Tumor neoplasms are located in the lymph nodes, upper or lower jaw, ovaries, kidneys and adrenal glands. Drugs that contribute to the successful cure of disease, does not yet exist.
This is a tumor, the location of which is the upper segment of the nasopharynx. Patients with this disease complain of constant nasal congestion, frequent and heavy nose bleeds, reduced hearing acuity, sore throat and intense persistent headache. The disease is also common on the African continent.
This disease is characterized by an increase in whole groups of lymph nodes. Patients lose weight dramatically and complain of frequent bouts of fever.
A lymph node biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis. If a disease does occur, quite large Hodgkin cells are detected during the study. With the help of radiation therapy, stable remission can be achieved in 70% of cases.
This is a whole group of diseases, the development of which is the pathological growth of lymphoid tissue. The disease is characterized by an abnormal increase in lymph nodes, and the confirmation of the diagnosis can be carried out only after a biopsy. The effectiveness of chemotherapy depends on the type of tumor.
EBV has a negative effect on the functioning of the immune system. Often HHV type 4 leads to:
- autoimmune hepatitis;
- chronic glomerulonephritis;
- Sjogren's syndrome;
- rheumatoid arthritis.
There is not yet a single therapeutic regimen for EBV infection. Despite the wide range of antiviral drugs (Acyclovir, Famvir, Zovirax, etc.), their purpose is not appropriate. In most cases, they are prescribed only as a symptomatic therapy.
Which doctor to contact?
In the event of EBV infection, it is necessary to consult an infectious diseases specialist.If the disease is supplemented with complications, the patient may be referred for additional consultation with other specialists:
- a neurologist;
In some cases, you may need to consult an otolaryngologist to rule out the development of bacterial tonsillitis.
Prevention of EBV in a child
There are currently no specific measures aimed at preventing infection by EBV. Vaccination is also not carried out, since the vaccine has not yet been developed. This is due to the fact that the proteins of the virus often change their structure and composition, which significantly affects the staging of the development of pathology.
But since diseases caused by EBV can lead to serious complications, it’s still necessary to think about possible prevention methods. They are:
- Complete, balanced nutrition, enriched with vitamins, micro-and macronutrients.
- Hardening. A reasonable approach to the hardening process helps to strengthen the immune system and make the body more resistant and resilient to the effects of various representatives of pathogenic microflora, viruses and fungi.
- Physical activity. During exercise, walking or practicing various sports, blood circulation improves throughout the body. His cells are saturated with oxygen, and, therefore, recover. Therefore, it is better to give preference to movement than to sit indoors for days at a time in front of a computer monitor or a TV screen.
- Acceptance of plant-derived immunomodulators - Immunal or Immunorm. They are released in the form of drops. They need to take 20 drops three times a day. They not only stimulate the immune system, but also contribute to the restoration of cells and tissues of various organs. Herbs can be used instead of medications.
Preventing EBV infection in children is not only about stimulating the immune system. It also requires the exclusion of the possibility of contracting a virus from its carriers. To do this, limit contact with infected children, as well as ensure that the child has less contact with their toys.
But that's not all. A child from early childhood must be taught to comply with sanitary standards. The implementation of hygiene rules is a guarantee of health, and children should learn this from their parents!