Infectious Mononucleosis

by Milissa Payne

Mononucleosis, commonly referred to as “the kissing disease,” is an infectious disease typically caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. It can also be caused by other viruses. The most common signs and symptoms of mononucleosis are fatigue, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Mononucleosis is a contagious infection, spreading through the saliva of the infected persons, hence it’s nickname. The disease sometimes goes untreated, as it can be commonly mistaken for strep throat, the flu or fatigue. Symptoms may not show until four to six weeks after infection.

While it is highly contagious and can infect anyone, teenagers and young adults are more susceptible to Mono. College students are especially at risk due to close living situations dormitories. The infection can come with mild problems with serious complications arising in only severe cases. While the effects normally remain mild, Mono can leave a person feeling extremely tired and ill for several months.

A capillary blood test called the Monospot test is the most common way to detect the infection. In quite a few cases, the diagnosis can be made by the observation of clinical symptoms alone. There is no treatment or vaccine for Mono aside from bedrest, fluids, and traditional homecare. It is recommended that persons infected should not share food or drinks or come into close contact with others until symptoms resolve. Those who have Mono do not necessarily need to be quarantined, and many people are actually immune to the infection. Due to the possibility of an enlarged spleen, those diagnosed with Mono are recommended to limit physical activity to prevent rupturing.

Good nutrition, a clean-living environment, and proper hygiene standards are all effective ways to prevent the spread of Mononucleosis. Given its contagious nature and the fact that it is viral so antibiotics cannot be used to combat it, Mono will never be eradicated; however, through behavioral efforts including hygiene, the spread and effects of Mono can be reduced.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.