Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Infectious Mononucleosis Pictures Slideshow

What is the prognosis of mono?

Most people with mono recover completely with no long-term problems. The fatigue associated with the condition may persist for a few months after the fever and other symptoms have resolved. Severe complications as described above are very rare.

Is it possible to prevent mono?

Since mono is spread from person to person, avoiding close personal contact with infected individuals and practicing excellent hygienic practices can help prevent transmission of the virus. This includes avoiding sharing contaminated utensils like toothbrushes and drinking glasses. However, since periodic reactivations of the virus infection seem to occur in healthy individuals and because many infected people who may transmit the virus to others will not have symptoms of the condition, prevention is extremely difficult. In fact, these individuals without symptoms are believed to be the primary source of transmission of the virus. The fact that up to 95% of adults have antibodies to EBV suggests that prevention of the infection is difficult if not impossible. It is not known why some people develop the symptoms of mono while others appear to acquire the EBV infection without having symptoms. It is possible that many infections occur and produce mild symptoms and are not recognized as mono, while other infections may not produce symptoms at all.

Conclusion

Infectious mononucleosis is usually a self-limited, although sometimes prolonged, and often uncomfortable illness. While specific treatment is rarely necessary, the potential complications make it essential that people with this illness be under the care of a physician.

REFERENCES:

Buchwald, D.S., T.D. Rea, W.J. Katon, J.E. Russo, and R.L. Ashley. "Acute Infectious Mononucleosis: Characteristics of Patients Who Report Failure to Recover." Am J Med 109.7 (2000): 531.

Cunha, Burke A. "Infectious Mononucleosis." eMedicine.com. Oct. 19, 2009. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/222040-overview>.

Luzuriaga, K., and J.L. Sullivan. "Infectious Mononucleosis." N Engl J Med 362.21 (2010): 1993.

Macsween, K.F., C.D. Higgins, K.A. McAulay, H. Williams, N. Harrison, A.J. Swerdlow, and D.H. Crawford. "Infectious Mononucleosis in University Students in the United Kingdom: Evaluation of the Clinical Features and Consequences of the Disease." Clin Infect Dis 50.5 (2010): 699.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Epstein-Barr Virus and Infectious Mononucleosis." May 16, 2006.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2016

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