Background: Epstein-Barr virus
(EBV) spreads through bodily fluids, especially saliva, and can cause infectious mononucleosis. EBV immunity and infection status can be assessed by testing EBV viral capsid antigen and nuclear antigen (EBNA) antibodies in blood. In this study, we investigated the seroprevalence
and force of infection
(FOI) of EBV antibodies among children and young people in 3 ethnic groups in Singapore.
Eight hundred ninety-six residual serum samples at a tertiary hospital were tested for viral capsid antigen (IgG and IgM) and EBNA IgG antibodies using Abbott Architect assays. We calculated the EBV seroprevalence
using catalytic models to estimate the EBV force of infection
from age-stratified seroprevalence
data, both overall and by ethnic group.
Overall seropositivity was 68.3% (n = 612). Seropositivity was higher in Malays (81.8%) compared with both Chinese (64.2%) and Indians (58.4%). EBV FOI was consistently higher in Malays, with an estimated annual rate of seroconversion of 25% in children 1 year, of age compared with 14% among Chinese and Indians at the same age.
patterns of EBV antibodies in the Chinese and Indian, but not Malay children in Singapore by 19 years of age resemble those previously reported in developed countries. Ideally, any future EBV vaccination strategy would need to target infants <1 year of age for maximum population benefit.