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Virology Laboratory

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) PCR (Quantitative) - blood specimen

  • LIS Mnemonic: EBVPCR


    Lavendar (EDTA)

    Volume Required

    4-7 ml whole blood

    Minimum Required

    4 ml whole blood


    Transport blood in a timely fashion (preferably within 8 hours of collection) at room temperature to the Clinical Virology Laboratory.




    Whole blood in an EDTA-anticoagulated tube is the preferred specimen source. Thoroughly mix the blood by gently inverting the collection tube 6-12 times before sending to the laboratory. Other acceptable specimens include body fluids, tissue submitted in viral transport medium, and CSF.

    Unacceptable conditions

    Clotted specimens

Days Performed



Same day

Reflex Testing

When monitoring the blood of immunocompromised patients for EBV over time, a quantitative PCR assay will be automatically performed on all patients whose blood has been previously positive for EBV by qualitative and/or quantitative PCR testing.




Amplification and detection of EBV DNA of the nonglycosylated membrane protein BNRF1 p143 gene using TaqMan real-time PCR technology. This test is performed pursuant to an agreement with Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.

Disease Information


EBV is the primary cause of infectious mononucleosis with symptoms of fever, exudative pharyngitis, lymphadenopathy, enlarged liver and spleen, and an atypical lymphocytosis. Infections with EBV can lead to hepatitis, pneumonia, myocarditis, neurologic syndromes, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and hemophagocyctic syndrome. The virus is also associated with posttransplantation lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD), Burkitt lymphoma, X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and lymphomas of the CNS. The diagnosis of EBV infection is increasingly being made by PCR, and EBV DNA has been detected in specimens from solid-organ and bone marrow transplant recipients and HIV-infected patients with lymphoproliferative disorders; individuals with infectious mononucleosis, and in patients with other manifestations of primary or recurrent EBV infections. Quantitative PCR assays should be used in immunocompromised patients to associate infection with disease, predict and monitor disease progression, assess efficacy of antiviral therapy, and to facilitate our understanding of the pathogenesis of EBV. In these patients, viremia is considered to be the best predictor of disease, and quantitative measures of EBV DNA in blood is useful for the continued surveillance and management of transplant patients.


If positive, quantity of Epstein-Barr virus DNA is reported in copies/ml and log10 values. Dynamic range of the assay is 818 copies/ml to 400 million

Reference Values

Negative or quantity of Epstein-Barr virus DNA is less than the lower limit of detection

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