The worldwide burden of disease due to Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infection is enormous. Diseases include endemic Burkitt lymphoma, infectious mononucleosis, cancers after transplantation, Hodgkin lymphoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. A prophylactic EBV vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce the incidence and/or the severity of all these diseases. Infectious mononucleosis can be nasty and prolonged with a median duration of 17 days. Patients, especially children, undergoing bone marrow or solid organ transplantation may develop post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). Preventing or modifying primary EBV infection could reduce the incidence PTLD, and also certain lymphomas and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. EBV is a major environmental risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS). Contracting EBV is essential to getting MS, and having a childhood case of infectious mononucleosis increases that risk. Vaccinating against EBV could be vaccinating against MS.
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We thank Erich Pugh for translating the article by Pfeiffer from German to English. This work was supported by grants from Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund, Matt Cwiertny Memorial Foundation, and University of Minnesota Foundation.
© 2019, International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.