The EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) Antibodies to Viral Capsid Antigen (VCA) IgM test looks for a type of antibody which the body develops in response to infection with Epstein-Barr Virus. IgM antibodies typically appear shortly after infection and disappears at around 4-6 weeks. A positive result for this test usually indicates an active infection in the early course of the illness. In cases where the virus reactivates after being dormant in the body, IgM antibodies may be produced in low levels.
Epstein-Barr Virus is one of the most common viruses with as many as 95% of the people in the US having been exposed by the age of 40. In many people the virus causes no symptoms. Those infected during adolescence or young adulthood may develop Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono). Common symptoms of Mono include fatigue, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, and sometimes an enlarged spleen or liver. Additional complications affecting the heart or nervous system may occur but are rare. Symptoms of Mono typically clear up after a couple months but EBV will remain dormant in the body for the rest of a person's life. Periodic reactivation of the virus may occur but usually does not cause symptoms or illness. EBV is normally spread through contact with an infected person's saliva. Some people remain capable of transmitting the virus throughout their lives.
This test is usually ordered when someone is experiencing symptoms associated with Mono to help diagnose or rule out infection with EBV, especially if they have shown negative resuts from a Mononucleosis test. Pregnant women experiencing symptoms are often tested for EBV. While EBV does not typically cause complications during pregnancy, it can be helpful to rule it out as a cause for the mother's illness. The EBV VCA IgM is typically only useful for detecting a recent infection. An EBV VCA IgG test can be ordered to help detect a previous infection.
Turnaround time for the EBV Abs VCA, IgM test is typically 2-3 business days.
Note: Result turn around times are an estimate and are not guaranteed. Our reference lab may need additional time due to weather, holidays, confirmation/repeat testing, or equipment maintenance.
IgM antibodies are typically detectable within 2-3 weeks of infection but may be detectable earlier in some people. These antibodies will typically no longer be detectable 4-6 weeks after infection. These antibodies may be detectable for a longer period in adults.
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