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What is the Epstein-Barr virus test?

The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a member of the herpes virus family. It’s one of the most common viruses to infect people around the world. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, as many as 95 percent of adults between 35 and 40 years of age have been infected with EBV at some point in their lives.

The virus typically causes no symptoms in children. In adolescents and adults, it causes an illness called infectious mononucleosis, or mono, in about 35 to 50 percent of the cases. Also known as “the kissing disease,” the virus is usually spread through saliva. It’s very rare for the disease to be spread through blood or other bodily fluids.

The EBV test is also known as “EBV antibodies.” It’s a blood test used to identify an EBV infection. The test detects the presence of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that your body’s immune system releases in response to a harmful substance called an antigen. Specifically, the EBV test is used to detect antibodies to EBV antigens. The test can find both a current and past infection.