Sero-epidemiological patterns of Epstein-Barr and herpes simplex (HSV-1 and HSV-2) viruses in England and Wales

J Med Virol. 2002 Aug;67(4):522-7. doi: 10.1002/jmv.10132.


The aim was to carry out a population-based sero-prevalence survey of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) across a wide age range in England and Wales and to identify any associations between EBV and herpes simplex virus types one and two (HSV-1 and 2). Sera from an age-stratified sample of 2,893 individuals, submitted for diagnostic purposes to 15 public health laboratories in England and Wales in 1994, were tested for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody to EBV. The samples had been tested previously for IgG antibody to HSV-1 and HSV-2. The serological profile of EBV was consistent with an endemic infection with peaks in transmission in those less than 5 years old and in young adults. An age adjusted analysis found a significant association between EBV and HSV-1 seropositivity that is most likely explained by similarities in their mode of transmission. The very low seroprevalence of HSV-2 in this sample complicated the comparisons of EBV and HSV-1 with HSV-2. Any associations were most likely explained by chance. Given the association between EBV and HSV-1, it is likely that recently documented epidemiological changes in HSV-1 also apply to EBV. Continuing surveillance of these herpes viruses is necessary as the predicted changes could have a significant public health impact, especially in the young adult population.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England / epidemiology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / virology*
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Genitalis / immunology
  • Herpes Genitalis / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Sex Distribution
  • Wales / epidemiology


  • Immunoglobulin G