Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyMSTeam

JC Virus, PML, and MS

Posted on July 27, 2019




J
C Virus, PML, and MS

You probably never heard of the John Cunningham (JC) virus before beginning treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). That’s because the JC virus is a common - and usually harmless - infection. But in situations where a person’s immune system is compromised, the JC virus can cause a potentially fatal brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).

Certain disease-modifying therapies used to treat MS can increase the risk for developing PML because they suppress aspects of the immune system. Tysabri (Natalizumab) is usually considered the medication of most concern, though cases of PML have also occurred in people taking other MS treatments including Tecfidera (Dimethyl fumarate), Gilenya (Fingolimod), and Ocrevus (Ocrelizumab).

Before beginning one of these medications, you may receive a blood test to check for JC virus antibodies. Your physician may recommend a blood test every six months to monitor your JC virus antibody levels.

Receiving a positive JC virus test result can be frustrating and scary. Some MyMSTeam members are worried about switching treatments. “My JC virus levels have increased,” a member wrote. “My doctor is considering taking me off Tysabri.😭 This is the ONLY MEDICINE THAT HAS WORKED FOR ME!!!”

You may still be able to take Tysabri depending on the levels of JC virus antibodies in your blood. Higher levels of JC virus antibodies increase the risk of developing PML.

Doctors will sometimes recommend remaining on Tysabri for a specific period of time and then transitioning to another treatment. A member who tested positive for the JC virus shared: “My neurologist advised that I shouldn't be at a high risk for PML until I've been on Tysabri for two years. As of right now the plan is to keep monitoring for PML and remain on Tysabri for the two years then switch to something else.” Always consult your doctor before discontinuing a medication.

Other members decide to avoid any medication that can increase the risk of PML. “I don't think I would take Tysabri if I were positive because I would have too much anxiety about PML,” one member commented.

MyMSTeam members support each other when dealing with a positive JC virus result: “Doctors watch your numbers carefully,” a member wrote in response to a worried teammate. “They don't want it to happen any more than you do.”

“It’s incredible because there are many more options for treatment than there were even a decade ago,” a member encouraged another member concerned about switching treatments.

On MyMSTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with multiple sclerosis, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. JC virus and PML are one of the most discussed topics.

Here are some conversations about JC virus and PML:
 

 

Here are some question-and-answer threads about JC virus and PML:
 

 

Can you relate? Share your thoughts about the JC virus and PML in the comments below or directly on MyMSTeam.

 

A MyMSTeam Member said:

That’s great to hear stayhealthy

posted 3 months ago

hug

Recent articles

Mht dr boster internal ad post event carousel
Medically reviewed by Aaron Boster, M.D.Dr. Aaron Boster brought his characteristic energy and...

Dr. Boster Gets Real Answering Your Top MS Questions

Medically reviewed by Aaron Boster, M.D.Dr. Aaron Boster brought his characteristic energy and...
Mht mymsteam resourcecenter article3 carousel managing ms leg weakness
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatLegs like jelly or noodles,...

Managing MS Leg Weakness

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatLegs like jelly or noodles,...
Mht mymsteam resourcecenter article1 carousel ms fatigue how to fight fatigue with ms
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatFatigue is a very common...

MS Fatigue: How to Fight Fatigue with MS

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatFatigue is a very common...
Mht mymsteam resourcecenter article2 carousel managing ms muscle weakness
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatIn people with multiple...

Managing MS Muscle Weakness

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatIn people with multiple...
Screen shot 2020 03 04 at 2.57.32 pm
Article written by Laurie Berger Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatThe MS hug is a painful...

The MS Hug Explained: Description, Symptoms, and Causes

Article written by Laurie Berger Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatThe MS hug is a painful...
Scale 403585 1920
Article written by Alison Channon Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatMaintaining a healthy...

Weight Gain and MS

Article written by Alison Channon Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit ShelatMaintaining a healthy...
Brain lesions in ms
Article written by Nyaka Mwanza Brain lesions in multiple sclerosis are caused by an abnormal...

Brain Lesions in MS: What You Must Know

Article written by Nyaka Mwanza Brain lesions in multiple sclerosis are caused by an abnormal...
Mht video ms   covid 19 an interview  with  dr. aaron boster vertical04 carousel
Article written by Eric Peacock Medically reviewed by Dr. Aaron BosterAccording to Dr. Aaron...

MS Treatments and COVID-19: What to Discuss With Your Neurologist

Article written by Eric Peacock Medically reviewed by Dr. Aaron BosterAccording to Dr. Aaron...
Mht covid19 essentialupdates carousel
During the COVID-19 pandemic, MyMSTeam will provide summaries and links to articles of importance...

COVID-19 and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Essential Updates

During the COVID-19 pandemic, MyMSTeam will provide summaries and links to articles of importance...
Signs and symptoms of spms
Article written by Nyaka Mwanza Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) is diagnosed in...

Signs and Symptoms of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)

Article written by Nyaka Mwanza Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) is diagnosed in...
MyMSTeam My multiple sclerosis Team

Two Ways to Get Started with MyMSTeam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with multiple sclerosis. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about multiple sclerosis sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MyMSTeam My multiple sclerosis Team

Thank you for signing up.

close