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J Infect Dis. 2006 Apr 1;193(7):971-7. Epub 2006 Mar 1.

Clearance of circulating Epstein-Barr virus DNA in children with acute malaria after antimalaria treatment.

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Center for Infectious Medicine, Karolinska University Hospital--Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Children living in malaria-endemic regions have a high incidence of Burkitt lymphoma (BL), the etiology of which involves Plasmodium falciparum malaria and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infections. In the present study, we compared EBV DNA loads in plasma and saliva samples from Ugandan children with acute malaria (M+) at the time of diagnosis and 14 days after antimalaria treatment, children without malaria (M-), and children with BL. EBV DNA was detected, by real-time polymerase chain reaction, in 31% of the plasma and in 79% of the saliva samples from children in the M+ group. Antimalaria treatment led to clearance of plasma viral load in 85% of the cases but did not affect the levels in saliva. There was a significant difference in plasma EBV loads across the groups. The lowest levels were detected in samples from the M- group, increased levels were detected in samples from the M+ group, and levels reached the highest values in samples from children with BL. The same trend was evident in the frequency and levels of anti-BZLF1 antibodies, which is indicative of viral reactivation. In the M+ group, the positive plasma samples clustered around 7-9 years of age, the peak incidence of BL. The clearance of circulating EBV after antimalaria treatment suggests a direct relationship between active malaria infection and viral reactivation.

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