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EBV Antibody

Does this test have other names?

Specific Epstein-Barr virus antibodies, EBV-specific antibodies

What is this test?

This is a blood test that checks for antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Most people are infected by this virus at some point. EBV often doesn't have any symptoms, but it can cause mononucleosis (mono) or other conditions in some people, especially teens and young adults. 

Why do I need this test?

Your health care provider may order this test if you have symptoms that might be caused by mono, such as sore throat, fatigue, fever, rash, swollen glands in the neck, or an enlarged spleen. He or she will use the test to see if EBV is causing your illness.

Your doctor may not order the EBV antibodies test unless your results for other mono tests are negative. 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

If your doctor suspects that you may have mono, you will likely have other blood tests such as a mono test, also called a mono spot test. This test looks for different antibodies in the blood. You may also have a blood test to check your blood cell counts. People with mono often have higher than normal levels of white blood cells called lymphocytes. Blood tests to check for other infections may also be done. If you have a sore throat, you may also get a throat swab to check for strep throat. 

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

If the results for your EBV antibodies test is negative, it likely means you have never been infected with EBV. If your test is positive, it could mean a few different things. Some types of EBV antibodies are present in higher numbers during an active infection. Other EBV antibodies mean that you had an infection in the past. Depending on the type of antibodies your test shows, your health care provider can find out more about what is causing your illness.  

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore. 

What might affect my test results?

A positive EBV test means that it's likely you had an EBV infection at some point. It does not always mean that you have recently been infected, nor does it indicate how severe your infection is. Antibody levels can remain high for years, even if you don't show any symptoms right now. People can have EBV without feeling ill.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test.