Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Multiple sclerosis after infectious mononucleosis: record linkage study


Objective: To ascertain if infectious mononucleosis is a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS); and, if it is, whether its effect is close to or remote in time from the onset of MS.

Design: Analysis of database of linked abstracts of records of hospital admission and death.

Setting: Health region in central southern England.

Main outcome measure: Ratio of rate of MS in a cohort of people admitted to hospital with infectious mononucleosis to the rate in a comparison cohort.

Results: Considering all time intervals from admission with infection to admission with MS, there was a non-significant increase of risk of MS in the infectious mononucleosis cohort (rate ratio 2.17, 95% confidence intervals 0.79 to 4.77). At the interval of 10 years or more, there was a significant increase in risk of MS (rate ratio 4.01, 1.48 to 8.93). The mean time from infectious mononucleosis to first admission with MS was 14 years.

Conclusion: This study adds support to the evidence that Epstein-Barr virus, the cause of infectious mononucleosis, is associated with MS. Its role is probably as an initiator of the disease process of MS, or as a contributor to its early development, rather than as an activator of latent, existing disease.

  • MS, multiple sclerosis
  • EBV, Epstein-Barr virus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • infectious mononucleosis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • record linkage

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.