At a glance
Also known as
EBV Antibodies; EBV VCA-IgM Ab; EBV VCA-IgG Ab; EBNA-IgG Ab; EA-D IgG Ab
Why get tested?
To help diagnose glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis or Mono); to help evaluate susceptibility to EBV infection; to distinguish between an EBV infection and another illness with similar symptoms
When to get tested?
When you have symptoms of glandular fever but a negative IM screening test (monospot); when a pregnant woman has flu-like symptoms; sometimes when an asymptomatic person has been exposed to glandular fever
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm
Test preparation needed?
What is being tested?
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are a group of tests that are ordered to help diagnose a current, recent, or past EBV infection. EBV is a member of the herpes virus family. Passed through the saliva, the causes an infection that is very common. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), as many as 95% of people in the world adult population has been infected by EBV. After exposure to the virus, there is an of several weeks. EBV then causes an primary infection, followed by resolution and dormancy. Latent EBV remains in the person’s body for the rest of their life, reactivating intermittently, but causing few problems unless the person’s is significantly compromised.
Most people are infected by EBV in childhood and experience few or no symptoms, even in the acute phase of the infection. However, when the initial infection is delayed until adolescence, EBV causes glandular fever in up to 50% of those infected. Glandular fever is a condition that is associated with fatigue, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, an enlarged spleen, and, sometimes, an enlarged liver. Those who have it are often symptomatic for a month or two before the initial infection resolves.
Patients with glandular fever are diagnosed by their symptoms and the findings of a full blood count (FBC) and a monospot test (which tests for a ). A certain percentage of those who have glandular fever will have a negative mono test; this is especially true with children. EBV antibodies can be used to determine whether or not the symptoms these patients are experiencing are due to a current infection with the EBV virus.
It can be important to distinguish EBV from other illnesses. For instance, the enlarged spleen of those with a glandular fever infection is vulnerable to rupture. Patients who have glandular fever should not be involved in contact sports for several weeks to months after infection, as a ruptured spleen can cause a medical emergency. Also, pregnant women with symptoms of a viral illness need to be able to distinguish a primary EBV infection, which has not been shown to affect the baby, from a cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasmosis, or herpes simplex virus infection, as these illnesses can cause complications during the pregnancy and may damage the fetus. It can also be important to rule out EBV and to look for other causes for the symptoms. Patients with strep throat, for instance, need to be identified and treated with antibiotics. A patient may have strep throat instead of glandular fever, or they may have both conditions at the same time.
There are several EBV antibodies. They are proteins produced by the body in an immune response to several different Epstein-Barr virus . They include and antibodies to the viral capsid antigen (VCA), and antibodies to the nuclear antigen (EBNA). During a primary EBV infection, each of these EBV antibodies appears independently on its own time schedule. The VCA-IgM antibody is usually detectable at the time of the first blood test, and then tends to disappear after about 4 to 6 weeks. The VCA-IgG antibody develops soon after VCA-IgM, and persists for life. The EBNA antibody usually develops 2-4 months after the initial infection, so does not usually appear until the acute infection has resolved. It persists for life. Using a combination of these EBV antibody tests, a doctor is able to detect an EBV infection and to determine whether it is a current, recent, or past infection.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.