Information About EBV Antibody Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

EBV Antibody Test

The EBV Antibody test is basically used to diagnose if the body is susceptible to the Epstein Barr Virus. It is also used to diagnose a condition called mononucleosis or 'mono.' The Epstein Barr Virus belongs to the Herpes family and is normally transmitted through saliva. Infection due to EBV is very common and is sometimes undetected even in its acute state.

Once the virus has been transmitted, it remains inactive for a couple of weeks. This is also known as the incubation period. After the incubation period, the virus causes an infection. It is important to know that although the infection caused by an EBV disappears after a few days, the virus remains in the body for the rest of the person's life. The virus can even become active again; however, the symptoms may not be as severe as the first infection. This is because the body's immune system starts adapting to the infection after its first occurrence.

Infection due to EBV can lead to a condition called mononucleosis or mono. An individual who has mononucleosis can have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, and in some rare cases, an enlarged liver.

Mono Test

Mono is typically analyzed using a test called the Mono test; however, the results of this test are sometimes negative, which is when an EBV test is ordered. There is no preparation needed for the EBV test. A blood sample is collected from the patient to perform the test. The antibodies are then extracted from the blood in a concentration called the titer. It is then sent for testing.

Procedure To Conduct a EBV Antibody Test

The EBV antibody test is basically an EBV serology test, and the recommended testing procedures are as follows:

  • VCA-IgM, VCA-IgG, and early antigen (EA-D): These tests are used to identify an existing infection or a very recent one.
  • EBNA (Epstein Barr nuclear antigen): These tests are used to detect a previous infection.

Interpretation of Test Results

The results of the tests can be interpreted as follows:
  • A positive VCA-IgM, VCA-IgG, or EA-D is an indication of current or very recent infection.
  • A positive EBNA indicates a past infection, which may become active in 2 to 4 months.

The EBV test is also conducted on pregnant women who have been showing symptoms of flu. It is rare for a pregnant woman to have an acute EBV infection, as they may be already immune to it. Although not common, there have been some cases of birth defects in babies born to mothers who were newly infected by an EBV virus.