Barr Epstein syndrome is most commonly referred to as the Epstein-Barr virus, or EBV. It is a very common virus that 95 percent of people become infected with during their lifetimes. Although Barr Epstein syndrome is not generally considered to be a serious condition, in rare cases it can bring on other diseases and infections--most commonly, mononucleosis.
Barr Epstein syndrome comes on slowly and can present many different symptoms. A sore throat that lasts two weeks or longer is one of the most common symptoms. Swollen lymph nodes in the armpits, neck and groin are typically present. A recurring fever of at least 102 degrees Fahrenheit is another common symptom. Additionally, fatigue and a general feeling of unease are commonly experienced.
The most common risk associated with Barr Epstein syndrome is mononucleosis. Also known as "mono," this illness occurs after someone has already contracted Barr Epstein syndrome. People who contract mononucleosis typically suffer from sore throats, swollen lymph nodes, extreme fatigue and persistent fevers for more than three or four weeks. People who contract Barr Epstein syndrome at very susceptible to contracting mono soon after.
Barr Epstein syndrome can be diagnosed by a physician, who will normally look for swollen lymph nodes and an enlarged or tender liver or spleen. Antibody tests can be done for Barr Epstein syndrome; these tests check for the presence of EBV antibodies in the blood. Elevated levels of such antibodies can conclusively determine the presence of Barr Epstein syndrome.
The symptoms of Barr Epstein syndrome are typically present for approximately three to four weeks; if it transforms into full-blown mononucleosis, it may remain active for three to four months. Even after the symptoms have resolved, however, the Epstein-Barr virus remains present in the blood and throat cells of a person for the rest of their life. Although Barr Epstein syndrome may be reactivated in sufferers from time to time, it typically remains dormant for the duration of a person's life.
Because Barr Epstein syndrome is a virus, it does not respond to treatment with antibiotics, nor does mononucleosis. Doctors usually advise patients to get as much rest as possible and to drink as many fluids as they can. In cases of severe swelling due to Barr Epstein syndrome, steroids may be prescribed. Also, streptococcal infection of the throat can occur along with the other common symptoms of this virus, prompting the prescription of antibiotics to eliminate that infection.