Self-collected oral flocked swabs to measure prevalence of Epstein-Barr Virus antibodies and DNA amongst university students
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Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) exposure and illness is common in undergraduate university students and may affect academic achievement, social life, and quality of life. We designed a study to measure EBV exposure (EBV-IgG, either Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1)-IgG or viral capsid antigen (VCA)-IgG) and current viral shedding (EBV-DNA) using self-collected oral swabs among university undergraduate students. Of 184 students enrolled, 129 (70.1%) tested positive for EBV-IgG. Salivopositivity was associated with being in a current relationship, but not with enrollment year. Forty (21.7%) of the participants tested positive for EBV-DNA, which was associated with all symptom scores, including history of sore throat, fever, swollen glands, muscle weakness, and fatigue in the previous 6 months. Our findings suggest that noninvasive, self-collected oral flocked swabs are feasible and potentially valuable for measuring EBV IgG antibodies and DNA.