In humans, EBV expresses proteins containing numerous short pentapeptides identical to those found in multiple sclerosis autoantigens, a disease which has been linked epidemiologically with humans in close contact with dogs, sheep or cattle. A link between human MS and canine distemper virus has already been postulated
EBV produces membrane proteins (intrabodies; latent membrane protein 1), essential to EBV-induced human B cell immortalization.
Dogs are commonly exposed to this virus via aerosol transmission from humans, but rarely develop symptoms associated with viremia. Routine epidemiological surveys report EBV positive dogs in up to 80% of cases.
In most cases of canine infection with EBV, mild pharyngitis and tonsillitis may be observed, associated with viral proliferation in pharyngeal tonsil. Although there is no evidence of EBV in canine peripheral blood mononuclear cells, EBV-like virus infection has been detected frequently in the peripheral blood of pet dogs. Moreover, as EBV-specific antigens are expressed during the early stage of virus infection, the presence of strong antibody signals to these EBV antigens indicated that some dogs could be experiencing virus reactivation. The presence of EBER in bone-marrow cells and peripheral lymphocytes (see figure right) further indicate that an EBV-like virus infection could be latent in some dogs.
However, recent researched has alluded to the development of malignant lymph nodes of dogs with lymphoma associated with EBV, underlying the role of this virus in neoplasia as is observed with humans.
Diagnosis is based on PCR identification of the virus on tonsillar swabs.
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