Epstein-Barr virus (“EBV”), a member of the herpesvirus family, is extremely common worldwide. In the U.S., about half of all children aged five and about 90% of adults have serological evidence of infection. Childhood cases rarely produce meaningful symptoms, however, in adolescents and young adults, EBV infection may cause infectious mononucleosis (“IM” or “mono”). EBV is primarily transferred through saliva, but can also be spread through other bodily fluids including blood and semen.
Once an individual is infected with EBV, the virus lies dormant in infected cells and can remain that way for years before reactivating. EBV infection or reactivation can lead to serious complications in hosts whose immune systems are either compromised by disease or suppressed, which is common following stem cell and solid organ transplants.