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Epstein-Barr virus in children: symptoms, treatment methods and how dangerous it is

Epstein-Barr virus in children: primary signs and symptoms of disease manifestation

About the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), many of us have not even heard, and yet it is considered one of the most common human viruses. More than 90% of adults in the world and about 50% of children under the age of 5 have not only experienced this infection, but also are carriers and potential sources, because once they get into the body, the virus remains in it for life.

After infection, EBV does not hurry to detect itself and often lives in our body in an inactive form. However, under certain circumstances, it can cause various diseases, including cancer.

The Epstein-Barr virus was first described in 1964 by the English scientists-virologist Michael Epstein and his assistant Ivonne Barr.

Epstein discovered an unknown virus in tumor cells, a sample which was sent to him by a colleague – surgeon Denis Burkitt.

While working in equatorial Africa, Berkitt became interested in a specific local oncological disease, which occurred mainly in children under 7 years (later this disease became known as Burkitt’s lymphoma). The new virus was named after the discoverers.

The surface of the capsid is provided with a multitude of glycoproteins, due to which the virus is easily attached to the cell. Target cells for it are mainly B-lymphocytes. Then the introduction of viral DNA into a healthy cell and further reproduction of the virus in it.

In this case, cell death does not occur (as when exposed to other herpesviruses), and their proliferation starts, i.e. reproduction of infected cells. Such an infection mechanism ensures high virulence of the EBV.

Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus occurs most often in early childhood or adolescence. The main risk group is children from 1 year, because in the first year of life the baby is well protected by maternal antibodies, later maternal immunity weakens, and the child becomes vulnerable, plus children after a year tend to begin to communicate more with others.

After infection, the virus exists in the human body throughout life as a latent (latent) infection.

The source of infection is a sick person, not only with active, but also with asymptomatic and erased forms of the disease.

Main transmission routes:

  • contact: when kissing – the most frequent way of infection;

  • contact-household: Infection is possible in young children through toys that receive saliva.

  • transfusion (with blood transfusion);

  • transplantation (with bone marrow transplantation).

    For infection with the Epstein-Barr virus close contact is needed, t. To. The greatest quantity or amount it or him is allocated with a saliva. That is why the most common disease caused by a virus is infectious mononucleosis, which is called a kiss disease.

    The danger of the Epstein-Barr virus is that it after infection is stored in the body for life and under certain conditions (for example, immunodeficiency) can cause a lot of far from harmless diseases, some of which are oncological:

  • Lymphogranulomatosis (Hodgkin’s disease).

  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (nasopharyngeal carcinoma).

  • Lymphoma of Burkitt (Central African limme) and other non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.

  • Syndrome Stephen – Jones.

  • Syndrome of Alice in Wonderland.

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome and others.

    The generally accepted classification of EBV infection has not been developed. Conditionally, it can be divided into the following features:

  • By the period of occurrence: congenital or acquired.

    It is established that Epstein-Barr is able to be transmitted from mother to child (under the condition of primary infection during pregnancy).

  • By the form of the disease: typical (manifestation of infection in the form of infectious mononucleosis), atypical – erased, asymptomatic or visceral.

  • By the severity of the process: light, moderate, heavy.

    Primary infection often occurs asymptomatically, especially in younger children (up to 5 years). Also, during the period of infection in children, nonspecific symptoms of the Epstein-Barr virus, which are characteristic of other diseases, may also appear:

  • Increased fatigue the body, the so-called pathological fatigue.

  • Disease of the type of ARVI – the patient develops a usual acute viral infection with fever, a runny nose, a cough, weakness, etc.

    In these cases suspected EBV infection in the body is very difficult, especially in childhood, so most often the primary infection remains unnoticed.

    In children of school and adolescence, and sometimes even in young children, Epstein-Barr can cause a specific disease – primary infectious mononucleosis – during primary infection. Other of its names – glandular fever, a disease of kisses, Filatov’s disease.

    Symptoms of Epstein-Barr virus infection in children:

  • Fever: often the disease begins with a sharp increase in temperature, which reaches its maximum on days 2 to 4 (reaches 38-40 ° C) and lasts about 4 to 7 days. Further, a low temperature (up to 37.5 ° C) can persist for 3; 4 weeks.

  • Intoxication: as in other diseases – weakness, decreased appetite, pain in the muscles and joints, etc.

  • Inflammation of lymph nodes: mainly affected posterolateral lymph nodes, they increase, become painful to the touch.

  • Adenoiditis: nasal congestion without a cold, difficult nasal breathing, nasal, snoring breathing during sleep.

  • Characteristic feature – Absence of effect when using vasoconstrictive drops for the nose.

  • Enlargement of the liver (hepatomegaly) and spleen (splenomegaly).

  • Rash on the background of taking some antibacterial drugs.

  • Exist atypical form of the disease, at which only some of the main symptoms are expressed.
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