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 EBV antibodies can be detected in the blood of people who have been infected with mono.

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 mononucleosis caused by the EBV is by far the most common.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: NikiC, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 10

When I was 13 and in high school, I took a drag of someone's cigarette before she knew she had mononucleosis, and it was the worst sickness I have ever had in my life. It took months for the tiredness to fade and my spleen to shrink to normal size. I don't think I was ever so skinny as after mono because I couldn't keep anything down for a few weeks.

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Comment from: rain, 13-18 Female (Caregiver) Published: February 12

My grandson is 15 years old and has mononucleosis. He is a wrestler/football player and enjoys all sports. Two weeks ago, after a wrestling tournament he developed a sore throat and swollen glands in his neck. He looked like he had mumps and his sinuses were infected. I took him to the doctor to rule out strep throat. He came home and his throat hurt so bad I was giving him tea and honey all day with other stuff. When he went back to school he went to the nurse, she told him he had all the signs of mono and should not wrestle. We went back to the doctor for a mono test and it was positive. His neck went down from the ibuprofen and fluticasone propionate nasal spray, however he is now tired a lot and has a pain in his right leg, maybe because he does not take the ibuprofen anymore.

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