Serological Evidence for Long-Term Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation in Children Living in a Holoendemic Malaria Region of Kenya

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To study the long term the effects of chronic exposure to P. falciparum malaria on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) reactivation in children, EBV-specific antibody levels were measured in a cross-sectional survey of two groups of Kenyan children with divergent malaria exposure, varying in age from 1 to 14 years. A total of 169 children were analyzed within three age groups (1-4 years, 5-9 years and 10-14 years). Using a Luminex assay, elevated levels of IgG to EBV lytic and latent antigens were observed in children from the holoendemic malaria area; these remained elevated for each age group studied. In comparison, children from the sporadic malaria area had lower levels of EBV-specific IgG antibodies and these levels declined across age groups. These data suggest that chronic exposure to malaria may lead to long-term EBV reactivation.

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