A case of acute extensive viral sinusitis secondary to acute Epstein Barr virus

  • Su Khine Department of Internal Medicine, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan, USA
  • Srujan Edupuganti Department of Internal Medicine-Pediatrics, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan, USA
  • Manoj Upadhyay Department of Internal Medicine, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan, USA
  • Kaitlin Liroff Department of Infectious Disease, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan, USA


Epstein Barr infection, infectious mononucleosis, lymphocytosis, viral sinusitis


Infectious mononucleosis (IM), the most common presentation of acute Epstein Barr virus (EBV) infection, typically presents with fever, pharyngitis and lymphadenopathy. We describe an unusual case of IM presenting as acute sinusitis. A 25 year-old male presented to the emergency department with worsening right frontal sinus pain along with fever, chills, and greenish nasal discharge for 3 weeks. Laboratory workup showed leukocytosis with high lymphocyte counts as well as transaminitis. Facial computerized tomography (CT) showed extensive right frontal, ethmoidal and maxillary sinusitis and antrochoanal polyp. The patient underwent endoscopy with drainage of purulent material and polyp removal. Unfortunately, cultures of the sample were not sent and bacterial infection could not be ruled out. Broad spectrum antibiotics were continued. Pathology of redundant tissue revealed large atypical lymphocytes with positive EBV-encoded RNA and lack of evidence of extranodal natural killer/T-cell (NK/T-cell) type lymphoma (ENKTCL). Tests for serum EBV IgM antibodies and EBV early Antigen antibodies were positive, indicating acute EBV infection. Lymphocytosis resolved along with significant clinical improvement at the 10-day follow up visit. Even though patient did receive antibiotics, multiple factors including isolated lymphocytosis, pathology positive for EBV with no neutrophilia were more suggestive of sinusitis caused by viral infection, EBV in this case. Lymphocytosis with fever and sore throat should prompt physicians to consider IM. There are no known reports in the literature of EBV as a causal organism for acute viral sinusitis. There are some studies relating EBV with ENKTCL. It is unknown whether this particular patient with a history of EBV sinusitis will be at high risk for nasal type lymphoma in the future. Further studies should be conducted to understand the pathogenesis and relationship between EBV and ENKTCL.



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  • Published: 2023-09-05

    Issue: 2023: Vol 10 No 10 (view)

    Section: Articles

    How to cite:
    Khine S, Edupuganti S, Upadhyay M, Liroff K. A case of acute extensive viral sinusitis secondary to acute Epstein Barr virus. EJCRIM 2023;10 doi:10.12890/2023_004039.