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Open Access Case report

Primary Epstein-Barr virus infection with polyradiculitis: a case report

Tilmann Hottenrott, Sebastian Rauer and Jochen Bäuerle*

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurology, University Hospital Freiburg, Breisacher Str. 64, 79106, Freiburg, Germany

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BMC Neurology 2013, 13:96  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-96

Published: 23 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Nervous system complications of primary Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection in adults are rare, but may occur with encephalitis, meningitis, myelitis, cranial and peripheral neuropathies, or radiculitis.

Case presentation

We describe an immune competent adult with a primary EBV infection complicated by lumbosacral polyradiculitis with pure radicular pain. Prior to the onset of radicular pain the 35-year-old woman had been suffering from infectious mononucleosis misdiagnosed for streptococcal tonsillitis. The diagnosis of primary EBV infection associated polyradiculitis was proven by serology and PCR in serum and CSF. Under initially started empiric therapy with intravenous acyclovir and analgesics the patient completely recovered within a few days.

Conclusion

This case report highlights that EBV should be taken into consideration in the diagnostic work up of radicular pain syndromes, even in immune competent adults. There is no approved causal therapy for EBV infections. In accordance with our case, observations based on a few patients with EBV and nervous system involvement suggest, that acyclovir treatment might be associated a with better course. However, prospective randomized controlled trials addressing the question of the effectiveness of acyclovir in patients with primary EBV infection and neurological complications are lacking.

Keywords:
Primary Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection; Infectious mononucleosis; Polyradiculitis