Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono) - Causes

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Most cases of mononucleosis occur in the 15-24 age group. How did you or your child "catch" mono?

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What is the cause of mono?

The EBV that causes mono is found throughout the world. By the time most people reach adulthood, an antibody against EBV can be detected in their blood. In the U.S., up to 95% of adults 35-40 years of age have antibodies directed against EBV. This means that most people, sometime in their lives, have been infected with EBV. The body's immune system produces antibodies to attack and help destroy invading viruses and bacteria. These specific antibodies can be detected in the blood of people who have been infected.

When infection occurs in childhood, the virus most often produces no symptoms. It is estimated that only about 10% of children who become infected with EBV develop the illness. Likewise, probably because of immunity from prior infection, adults typically do not develop the illness. Most cases of infectious mononucleosis occur in the 15-24 age group.

While there are other illnesses falling under the broad classification of mononucleosis that can cause similar symptoms (cytomegalovirus [CMV] infection is one example) and an increase in blood lymphocytes, the form caused by the EBV is by far the most common.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: micdob, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 24

Approximately 5 to 6 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with 3 pulmonary embolisms. Just last week I was ill with the flu and infectious mononucleosis. The doctor said I probably came in contact with an asymptomatic carrier.

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Comment from: KatsB14, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: March 14

I was just tested positive for mononucleosis earlier this week after suffering from what I thought were cold symptoms. I didn"t realize until the day I went to the clinic that this might be something more serious. I have a severe sore throat that makes it almost impossible to swallow anything, white patches on the back of the throat, fatigue, and lack of appetite. The only thing that I never got (or still haven"t gotten yet) is a fever. I"m pretty sure I caught it from my college professor, who still came into work sick, with a really sore throat and severe fatigue. I haven"t had a good night's sleep in about 4 days because whenever I unconsciously swallow, it hurts so much that it wakes me up, and I can"t get back to sleep. I have never had a sickness like this, and I hope that this sore throat will go away soon! I can hardly speak!

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