The prevalence of two types of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in Japan was studied by using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The U2 region encoding EBV nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA-2) was chosen as the target of amplification. Consensus primers were synthesized from sequences common to the two types but encompassing a large stretch of deletion in the sequence of type 1 EBV. The primers were capable of amplifying both types at the same time but allowed differentiation of each type by the size of the amplification products. Thus we could carry out detection and typing of EBV in a one-step PCR. EBV was detected in mouth washings of 21 (23%) of 91 seropositive healthy adults. Twenty samples (22%) contained type 1 and only one (1%) type 2. Seventy-nine patients suffering from various types of tonsillitis were also studied. EBV was detected in mouth washings of 37 patients (47%). Thirty-four (43%) contained type 1 and three (4%) type 2. Double infection was not seen in either healthy donors or patients. These results indicate that type 1 EBV is highly dominant and the type 2 variant is quite rare in Japan.


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