/Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono, EBV Mononucleosis)

Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono, EBV Mononucleosis)

What is infectious mononucleosis?

Infectious mononucleosis is a viral disease that affects certain blood cells. It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is a member of the herpes virus family. Most cases occur sporadically; outbreaks are rare.

Who gets infectious mononucleosis?

While most people are exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus sometime in their lives, very few develop the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis.

  • In underdeveloped countries, children are exposed in early childhood and are unlikely to develop noticeable symptoms.
  • In developed countries such as the United States, the age of first exposure may be delayed to older childhood and young adult age when symptoms are more likely to result.
    • For this reason, it is recognized more often in high-school and college students.

How is infectious mononucleosis spread?

The virus is spread by person-to-person contact, via saliva (on hands or toys or by kissing). In rare instances, the virus has been transmitted by blood transfusion.

What are the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis?

Symptoms include

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Feeling tired
  • Sometimes, the liver and spleen are affected

Duration is from one to several weeks. The disease is very rarely fatal. Very young children may not have any symptoms after being infected.

How soon do symptoms appear?

Symptoms appear from 4 to 6 weeks after exposure.

How long is a person able to spread infectious mononucleosis?

The virus is shed from the throat during the illness and for up to one year after infection.

After the initial infection, the virus tends to become dormant for a prolonged period and can later reactivate and be shed from the throat again.

What is the treatment for infectious mononucleosis?

No treatment other than rest is needed in the vast majority of cases. People with severe sore throats should see their doctor.

Can a person get infectious mononucleosis again?

People who get the illness rarely get it again.

What can a person do to minimize the spread of infectious mononucleosis?

Avoid activities involving the transfer of body fluids (commonly saliva) with someone who is currently or was recently infected with the disease.

At present, there is no vaccine available to prevent infectious mononucleosis.

Where can I get more information?

Contact your physician or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.

Contact Information

(702) 759-1000

Updated on: August 21, 2018

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