Is multiple sclerosis caused by Epstein-Barr virus? Researchers aren’t sure, but new research suggests there may be a connection. A fever is one of the symptoms of Epstein-Barr infection, especially when it occurs later in life.

As an autoimmune disease, MS results from the body’s immune system attacking healthy cells by mistake. According to some researchers, Epstein-Barr virus may trigger the immune system to attack healthy cells, resulting in MS. In MS, the immune system damages the brain and spinal cord. The exact cause of MS is still unknown, but some scientists believe that genetics, environment, and virus infection may play a role.

Worldwide, MS affects 2.8 million people. Symptoms include fatigue, vision disturbances, mobility and balance problems, and cognitive impairment. Over time, MS can progress to permanent disability for many people who develop symptoms followed by a period of recovery.

Scientists have suggested a link between MS and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) for decades. Generally, this infection does not cause symptoms in children when it is contracted in childhood. Infection during adolescence, however, can lead to glandular fever. Almost all people with MS have previously been infected with EBV, according to a study published in 2022. MS usually develops several years after the infection occurs. Researchers are still unsure how this virus might cause MS in certain people. New research offers some clues.

An infection triggers an immune response so that the next time you are exposed to it, you will already be protected. Healthy people produce immune cells called T cells and B cells that are responsible for fighting infection. These cells target one part of a virus or bacteria. Viruses and bacteria are destroyed by antibodies produced by B cells. The body remembers the viruses and bacteria it has encountered, so it can easily recognize and fight them if they appear again. This is known as immunity, and it protects people from diseases. T cells are the soldiers of the immune system and work alongside antibodies.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly damages the body. This may be caused by a phenomenon called molecular mimicry, in which immune cells, created to fight infection, instead attack proteins with similar shapes. Depending on which part of the body the immune system is targeting, this can cause a variety of symptoms and diseases. MS causes neurological symptoms because the brain and spinal cord are affected.

Although EBV antibodies are thought to be involved in MS, they may not fully explain why some people develop the disease. Even though available therapies reduce relapse rates, there are currently no treatments that prevent the progression of disease. In the future, greater understanding of the disease will allow the development of personalised therapies with the potential to cure MS.

One thing that is clear is that if an adult develops a fever without an obvious cause, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment of MS can slow the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of disability. Research is ongoing to develop treatments that can stop the progression of MS and to improve the quality of life for those affected.