What is the Difference Between CMV and EBV

The main difference between CMV and EBV is that CMV or Cytomegalovirus causes prolonged fever and systemic symptoms, whereas Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the most common cause of infectious mononucleosis.

CMV and EBV are two types of viruses that cause infectious mononucleosis (IM). Generally, IM is a clinical syndrome of the reticuloendothelial and lymphatic systems.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
     – Definition, Structure, Function
2. What is Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
     – Definition, Structure, Function
3. Similarities Between CMV and EBV
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between CMV and EBV
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

CMV, Cytomegalovirus, EBV, Epstein-Barr virusCMV vs EBV -  Comparison Summary

What is Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

CMV, or cytomegalovirus, is a common virus infecting humans of all ages. However, the infection does not show any signs or symptoms. Babies born with CMV have congenital CMV. Generally, such babies can have problems in the brain, spleen, liver, lungs, and growth. The most common congenital syndrome of CMV-infected babies is hearing loss. Although CMV infection does not show symptoms, some people may get mild illnesses, including fever, sore throat, fatigue, and swollen glands. Occasionally, CMV causes mononucleosis or hepatitis. It can also affect people with weakened immune systems and health issues with the lungs, liver, stomach, esophagus, intestines, and eyes.

Compare CMV and EBV - What's the difference?

Figure 1: CMV

Furthermore, CMV infection can spread through saliva, blood, urine, semen, tears, and breast milk. Therefore, blood tests are important in diagnosing CMV. But in newborns, saliva and urine are important as body fluids to test. Although people infected with CMV generally do not require treatment, people with weakened immune systems and newborns may require treatment.

What is Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

EBV, or Epstein-Barr virus, is the most common human virus in the world. The primary method of spreading the virus is through saliva. In fact, the disease caused by EBV is infectious mononucleosis or mono. Even though people get infected by EBV, they do not show symptoms. EBV infection is more common among teens and adults. In general, the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis include extreme fatigue, sore throat, fever, head and body aches, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits, swollen liver and spleen, and rash.


Figure 2: EBV

Moreover, the main methods of spreading the EBV infection include kissing, sharing drinks and food, using the same eating utensils, cups, and toothbrushes, and having contact with toys.

Similarities Between CMV and EBV

  • CMV and EBV are two types of viruses that cause infectious mononucleosis (IM).
  • Both belong to the family
  • Both are DNA viruses infecting animals, including humans.
  • They contain large, double-stranded DNA in the genome.
  • Both contain a capsid as well as a lipid bilayer envelope.
  • They have an icosahedral nucleocapsid.
  • Both cause infectious mononucleosis, which does not show signs and symptoms.

Difference Between CMV and EBV


CMV refers to a common virus that, once infected, the body retains the virus for life, while EBV, also known as human herpesvirus 4, refers to a member of the herpes virus family, one of the most common human viruses.

Genome Size

The genome size of CMV virus is 172 kb, while that of EBV virus is 236 kb.


Moreover, CMV contains four genotypes, gB1, gB2, GB3, and gB4, while EBV contains two genotypes, EBV-1 and EBV-2.

Number of Genes

CMV contains more than 200 genes, while EBV contains around 190 genes.


In brief, CMV and EBV are two types of viruses that contain a large, double-stranded genome. Both viruses cause infectious mononucleosis. Generally, CMV contains a comparatively small genome. It also contains four genotypes. In addition, it contains more than 200 genes. In comparison, EBV is the most common type of virus that infect humans. It contains a large genome. Usually, it has two genotypes and around 190 genes. Therefore, the main difference between CMV and EBV is their genome.

  1. About cytomegalovirus and congenital CMV infection.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 8, 2023
  2. Epstein-Barr and infectious mononucleosis (MONO).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 8, 2023
Image Courtesy:
  1. CMVschema” By Emmanuel Boutet – Own work (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Viral Tegument” By Ben Taylor – Own Work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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