Epstein-Barr virus antibody test
Epstein-Barr virus antibody test is a blood test to detect antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
EBV antibody test; EBV serology
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed.
The sample is sent to a lab, where a lab specialist looks for antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus. In the first stages of an illness, little antibody may be detected. For this reason, the test is often repeated in 10 days to 2 or more weeks.
How to Prepare for the Test
There is no special preparation for the test.
How the Test will Feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or slight bruising. This soon goes away.
Why the Test is Performed
The test is done to detect an infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). EBV causes mononucleosis or mono. The EBV antibody test detects not only a recent infection, but also one that occurred in the past. It can be used to tell the difference between a recent or previous infection.
Another test for mononucleosis is called the spot test. It is done when a person has current symptoms of mononucleosis.
A normal result means no antibodies to EBV were seen in your blood sample. This result means you have never been infected with EBV.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
A positive result means there are antibodies to EBV in your blood. This indicates a current or prior infection with EBV.
There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Costello M, Sabatini LM, Yungbluth M. Viral infections. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 55.
Johannsen EC, Kaye KM. Epstein-Barr virus (infectious mononucleosis, Epstein-Barr virus-associated malignant diseases, and other diseases). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 141.
Reviewed By:Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional
should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.