I had mononucleosis when I was 18, during my freshman year in college. For two weeks, I had sore throat, temperature, and the lymph nodes in my neck were swollen. The blood tests confirmed it was indeed mono, and for several months after my initial symptoms the antibody count remained high, suggesting my body was still fighting the infection.
I never gave it much thought, although I remember two or three years later, still in college, telling a friend of mine that I felt my energy levels never went back to normal after that. It’s like the fatigue that comes with mono never left me, and it’s still with me today.
When I was diagnosed with ms and started reading about it, the connection with the Epstein-Barr virus came up, and I felt that it made sense, at least considering my history. It’s not that everyone infected with the virus will develop ms, but being infected with it under certain circumstances (i. e., as an adult) and combined with other variables (genetic predisposition, chronic stress, etc) may produce such outcome.
Recent research has been shedding even more light on this connection. A 2012 study proves “the virus is involved in a manner more sophisticated and subtle than previously imagined, and may offer new ways to treat or prevent the disease.”
Even more recently a new study pointed out that ms relapses occur when the Epstein-Barr virus is active.
More interestingly, scientists came up with the hypothesis that ms could be caused by a retrovirus. Retroviruses are remnants of viral infections caught by our ancestors that are passed on through our genes. They are called “fossil viruses” and up until recently they were thought to be harmless. However, research has revealed some retroviruses may play a role in several autoimmune diseases.
Based on these pieces of evidence, scientists are looking at new and promising treatments for multiple sclerosis and other disabling conditions. So who knows what possible future therapies may be in store for us?