Of the more than 10 million US soldiers, 955 of them developed MS while serving in the military. For 801 of them, data on various viral infections was available from admission screening, and in some cases also from follow-up examinations. Only one out of 801 patients is not infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). In comparison: In the general population, 5.3 percent of samples are EBV-negative. This results in a 32-fold higher risk of developing MS in people after infection with EBV. This often happened about five years after the first EBV was discovered. EBV is the causative agent of glandular fever. Although many people carry the virus for life, the disease only spreads once – if it occurs at all.
Remarkably, those who developed MS had very high levels of antibody against EBV compared to people who were also positive for EBV but did not develop MS. Researchers consider this an indication that EBV is a trigger for MS. So far, the most important risk factor has been a specific cellular trait that carries with it a threefold increased risk of developing MS for a pregnant woman. Professor Dr. said. Ralph Gold from Bochum.