Lab Test

Epstein Barr Virus by PCR, Qualitative, (Non-blood samples only)

Test Codes

Mayo: LEBV, EPIC: LAB6015, Beaker: XEBVP


Do not use this test for diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis. This test is to detect Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) in individuals suspected of having EBV-related disease. If plasma is the preferred specimen type, please order "Epstein Barr Virus, Quantitative Plasma" instead.

Specimen Collection Criteria

Collect: ONE of the following specimen types:

  • Bone Marrow: One Lavender-top EDTA tube.
  • Sterile Fluid: 1.0 mL CSF or other sterile body fluid in sterile collection container. (Minimum: 0.5 mL)
  • Respiratory Fluid: 1.5 mL BAL, nasopharyngeal washing, sputum in sterile collection container. (Minimum: 1.0 mL)
  • Swab: Upper respiratory swab (nasal, throat) in M4 or Liquid Amies.
  • Fresh Tissue: Place in a M4 or saline transport container.

Specimen source is required. Send specimen for processing immediately after collection.

Physician Office/Draw Specimen Preparation

Transport: Specimens as indicated above, refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F).

Preparation for Courier Transport

Transport: Specimens as indicated above, refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F).

Rejection Criteria

  • Tissues in formalin or other preservatives.
  • Specimens not collected and processed as indicated.

In-Lab Processing

Specimens as indicated above, refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F).


Specimen Stability for Testing:

All Specimen Types
Room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): unacceptable
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 7 days
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): 7 days

Specimen Storage in Department Prior to Disposal:

Specimen retention time is determined by the policy of the reference laboratory. Contact the Send Outs Laboratory with any questions. 


Sent to Mayo Clinic Laboratories in Rochester, MN.


Sunday – Saturday.
Results available in 2-6 days.

Reference Range

By report.

Test Methodology

Qualitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).


A negative result does not rule out the presence of PCR inhibitors in the patient specimen or Epstein Barr Virus DNA in concentrations below the level of detection by the assay. This test is performed pursuant to an agreement with Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.

Clinical Utility

  • PCR is not recommended for the detection of infectious mononucleosis.
  • PCR is useful for detecting EBV in neck metastases, wherein undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma can be distinguished by the presence of EBV. PCR is also useful in detecting post-transplant lymphoproliferative syndrome, EBV meningitis/encephalitis, and intra-ocular EBV infections.

Clinical Disease

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the etiological agent of infectious mononucleosis and has been implicated in African Burkitt's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Childhood infections may be asymptomatic or produce "flu-like" illness. Adolescents and adults who escape infection during childhood experience infectious mononucleosis (IM). IM is characterized by irregular fever, pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy lasting 1 to 4 weeks. Hematological abnormalities include an absolute increase in lymphocytes and monocytes exceeding 50% and more than 15% atypical lymphocytes, lasting for at least 2 weeks. Liver function tests generally reveal a mild to moderate increase in SPGT, SGOT, bilirubin, and LDH levels. IM is usually a benign and self-limited disease. Complications including splenomegaly and splenic rupture, hepatitis, pericarditis, myocarditis, or central nervous system involvement (Guillain-Barre syndrome, Bell's palsy, transverse myelitis, and meningoencephalitis) may occur following IM infection. (1)


EBV occurs throughout the world and more than 90% of adults have antibodies to the virus. Most individuals acquire EBV early in life. Seroepidemiologic studies have indicated that 50% of children have antibodies to the virus by the time they are 5 years of age. No seasonality has been demonstrated. (1)

Incubation Period

The incubation period is 4-7 weeks. (1)


EBV is poorly contagious. Transmission is via salivary contact, either through kissing or by exposure to contaminated eating implements. (1)


  1. Wiedbrauk D, Johnston SLG. Manual of Clinical Virology, Raven Press, New York,NY, 1993.

CPT Codes

LOINC:  23858-4


Last Updated


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