The Epstein–Barr Virus (EBV) is truly prolific, with a prevalence of more than 90% in the adult human population.
There are, however, little data available on the prevalence of EBV among patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a population that is frequently immunosuppressed and thus at risk for severe, often fatal, primary infection.
Dr Fedorak and colleagues from Canada identified the prevalence of EBV in a population of patients with IBD, and compared it with that of the general population.
A database of 2500 IBD patients previously followed at the University of Alberta IBD Centre was queried.
The team found that 60 of these patients were randomly chosen to participate.
A total of 220 patients attending the IBD Centre for clinical appointment were also prospectively asked to participate.
Participants completed serological testing for VCA-IgM, VCA-IgG and EBNA-IgG, to determine prior EBV exposure.
The researchers reported that a total of 263 patients underwent testing.
The team found that 29% were EBV seronegative in those aged 18-20 years, 21–25 years, 26–30 years, 31–35 years, and in those 36–40 years of age, seropositivity was 100%.
Finally, 3% of those older than 40 were seronegative.
EBV seroprevalence was similar for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
The team observed that azathioprine was associated with seropositivity.
Dr Fedorak's team comments, "The prevalence of EBV seronegativity in the IBD population aged 18–25 years was similar to that described in the general population, and above age 25 years, seropositivity approached 100%."