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N Engl J Med. 1976 Jun 17;294(25):1355-9.

Infectious mononucleosis. Epstein-Barr-virus shedding in saliva and the oropharynx.


In an examination of excretion patterns of Epstein-Barr virus in 104 throat washings from 20 patients with infectious mononucleosis we found that three persons regularly shed virus from the second week through the third month after onset; 15 demonstrated intermittent excretion over three months, and in two cases, no virus was detected. In oral secretions, the virus appeared to be located extracellularly. Transforming activity was demonstrated in aliquots after centrifugation and filtration, in a sample in which cells were disrupted before filtration, and in specimens after two years' storage. Multiple oropharyngeal sites were examined for presence of the virus. In one patient, virus was regularly demonstrated in throat washings and saliva; swabs from Stensen's duct orifices yielded virus in three of four cases. Demonstration of virus in these oropharyngeal specimens explains increased transmissibility in age groups in which salivary exchange is high.

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