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Epstein-Barr virus - Definition


The Epstein-Barr virus belongs to the herpes viral family that specifically affects certain cells of the immune system involved in the body's defense system against outside attacks by micro-organisms, called B lymphocytes. The Epstein-Barr virus is responsible for viruses such as mononucleosis, which is transmitted by saliva (hence its nickname as the "kissing disease"), and causes tonsillitis with white deposits that look like membranes (hence its name pseudomembranous tonsillitis), extreme fatigue, fever and swollen lymph nodes. This virus is also responsible for a particular type of cancer affecting the lymph nodes called Burkett's lymphoma, and sometimes causes Hodgkin's disease.