Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono)

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Infectious mononucleosis (mono) facts

  • Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is a contagious illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
  • The infection can be spread by saliva, and the incubation period for mono is four to eight weeks.
  • Most adults have laboratory evidence (antibodies against the EBV) indicative of a previous infection with EBV and are immune to further infection.
  • The symptoms of mono include fever, fatigue, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.
  • The diagnosis of mono is confirmed by blood tests.
  • Mono can cause liver inflammation (hepatitis) and enlargement of the spleen.
  • People who have had mono can continue to shed virus particles in their saliva during reactivations of the viral infection throughout their lifetime.
  • Vigorous contact sports should be avoided in the illness and recovery phase to prevent rupture of the spleen.

What is infectious mononucleosis?

Infectious mononucleosis, "mono," "kissing disease," and glandular fever are all terms popularly used for the very common infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The characteristic symptoms of infection with EBV include fever, fatigue, malaise, and sore throat. The designation "mononucleosis" refers to an increase in a particular type of mononuclear white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the bloodstream relative to the other white blood cells as a result of the EBV infection. Scientifically, EBV is classified as a member of the herpesvirus family.

The disease was first described in 1889 and was referred to as "Drüsenfieber," or glandular fever. The term infectious mononucleosis was first used in 1920 when an increased number of lymphocytes were found in the blood of a group of college students who had fever and symptoms of the condition.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2013

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Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono) - Causes Question: Most cases of mononucleosis occur in the 15-24 age group. How did you or your child "catch" mono?
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Could your sore throat be a symptom of mono?

Sore Throat: Is It Mono?

Having a sore throat can be a symptom of many conditions, and many people wonder if their own sore throat might be a sign of something more serious than the common cold. Specifically, infectious mononucleosis ("mono") and infection with Streptococcus bacteria ("strep throat") are two conditions that both produce an extremely painful sore throat.

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