Story by: Sara Thompson on January 8, 2023
The question of what causes multiple sclerosis (MS) has plagued doctors and researchers for decades. But a new study led by a team of Harvard scientists shows strong evidence that Epstein-Barr virus causes MS.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the most common human viruses in the world. Spread through saliva, EBV can cause other infections such as mononucleosis (mono). EBV often is spread among children and young adults, since it is easily passed from person to person and often has no symptoms.
MS is a disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, blindness and paralysis. The symptoms of MS range from very mild to severe and vary from person to person. There is virtually no way to predict the progression of MS, and there is no known cure.
From diagnosis through treatment, Norton Neuroscience Institute providers support multiple sclerosis patients along the way.
“This is one of the more promising discoveries linking the two diseases,” said Geeta A. Ganesh, M.D., MPH, neurologist with Norton Neuroscience Institute Hussung Family Multiple Sclerosis Center. “Other viruses have been studied, but EBV seems to have the strongest prevalence associated with MS.”
While this is good news, there are still many questions. It is not known if EBV causes relapses or affects the progression of MS. Though EBV is a trigger, MS is fueled by a combination of genetics, environment and other factors.
More encouraging news lies in the potential of an EBV vaccine that would prevent the disease and could possibly protect those who already have a higher risk for MS. That includes people whose close family members have MS.
Whether a new diagnosis or living with MS for some time, Norton Neuroscience Institute Hussung Family Multiple Sclerosis Center provides comprehensive treatment options but also, education and resources to support patients and their family. Provided by the Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Centers, learn more about classes, events and resources provided to help those with MS.
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