- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Epstein-Barr virus (Michael Anthony Epstein)

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Double-stranded DNA virus of the gamma sub family of Herpetoviridae, genus Simplexvirus, species Herpes simplex virus 4. It is present in about 95 per cent of adults in the world, and is believed to be a key causal factor in certain types of cancer, especially a nose and throat cancer which each year kills 40.000 to 50.000 people in Asia. In the West, the virus causes infectious mononucleosis. In South African children, it is associated with Burkitt’s lymphoma. It was first isolated from cases of Burkitt's lymphoma in 1964, the first form of cancer to be associated with a virus.


  • Denis Parsons Burkitt (1911-1993):
    A sarcoma involving the jaws in African children.
    British Journal of Surgery, London, 1958-1959, 46: 218-223.
  • D. Burkitt, G. T. O'Connor:
    Malignant lymphoma in African Children. Cancer, Philadelphia, 1961, 14: 258-269.
  • M. A. Epstein, Y. M. Barr:
    Cultivation in vitro of human lymphoblasts from Burkitt's malignant lymphoma.
    The Lancet, 1964, 1: 252-253.
  • M. A. Epstein, B. G. Achong, and Y. M. Barr:
    Virus particles in cultured lymphoblasts from Burkitt's lymphoma.
    The Lancet, March 28, 1964, 1: 702-703.
    Presence of herpes-like virus particles in Burkitt's tumour cells reported.
  • M. A. Epstein, G. Henle, B. G. Achong, and Y. M. Barr:
    Morphological and biological studies on a virus in cultured lymphoblasts from Burkitt's lymphoma.
    The Journal of Experimental Medicine, New York, 1965, 121: 761-770.
  • G. Henle, et al:
    Relation of Burkitt's tumor-associated herpes type virus to infectious mononucleosis.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Washington D.C., 1968, 59: 94.
  • M. A. Epstein, and G. B. Achong, editors:
    The Epstein-Barr Virus. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1979.

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