Epstein Barr virus

Epstein Barr virus

Do you have any experience and understanding of the virus Epstein Barr? What advice would you give a regular cyclist on how to handle it?

Adrian Raynor

Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) is a common virus that is a member of the herpes virus family. Spread through saliva, it is thought that as many as 95% of people in the United Kingdom will have been infected by the age of 40. Following exposure, there is an incubation period lasting several weeks before EBV causes an infection. Most people are infected by EBV in childhood and experience very few symptoms. However, if the initial infection is delayed until adolescence, EBV can cause glandular fever with tiredness, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and an enlarged spleen. Glandular fever can last for several weeks.

Blood tests can detect antibodies against EBV to determine whether an infection is current, recent, or past. Many people who have had a mild form of EBV may not know they have been infected.

Treatment is largely supportive. Rest, treating the symptoms, and, in cases of glandular fever, avoiding contact sports to reduce risk of rupture of the spleen, are the basis of management. There are no anti-viral medications or vaccines available to speed healing or prevent infection.

For adult cyclists, the likelihood is you may have already had EBV. In mild or asymptomatic EBV infections, there may be little or no impact on fitness and performance, just as with any non-specific viral illness. However, in more severe cases, including glandular fever with significant fatigue, it may be necessary to have a significantly reduced training schedule or time off the bike. This is important as the body needs opportunity to recover.

Dr Matt Brooks

 

This was first published in the October / November 2014 edition of Cycle magazine.

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