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Mono

Infectious mononucleosis (also known as mono, the kissing disease, Pfeiffer's disease, and, in British English, glandular fever) is a disease seen most commonly in adolescents and young adults, characterized by fever, sore throat and fatigue. It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or the cytomegalovirus (CMV). It is typically transmitted through saliva or blood, often through kissing, or or by sharing a drinking glass, an eating utensil or a needle. The virus is also found in the mucus of the infected person, so it is also easily spread through coughing or sneezing. It is estimated that 95% of adults in the world have been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus at some point in their lives.

The virus infects B cells (B-lymphocytes), producing a reactive lymphocytosis and the atypical T cells (T-lymphocytes) which give the disease its name.

mono symptoms

A person can be infected with the virus for weeks or months before any signs, symptoms, of mono begin to appear. Mono symptoms usually begin to appear 4-7 weeks after infection. The first signs of mono can easily be confused with cold and flu symptoms.

The typical symptoms and signs of mononucleosis are:

  • Fever - this varies from mild to severe, but is seen in nearly all cases.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes - particularly the posterior cervical lymph nodes, on both sides of the neck.
  • Sore throat (throat infection) - nearly all patients with EBV-mononucleosis have tonsillitis, usually accompanied by thick exudate.
  • Fatigue (sometimes extreme fatigue)

Some patients may also display:

  • Enlarged spleen or liver
  • Abdominal pain
  • Aching muscles
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Sinus infection
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Skin rash

The symptoms of mononucleosis usually last 1-2 months, but the virus can remain dormant in the B cells indefinitely after symptoms have disappeared. Many people exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus do not show symptoms of the disease, but carry the virus and can transmit it to others. This is especially true in children, in whom infection seldom causes more than a very mild illness which often goes undiagnosed. This feature, along with mono's long incubation period, makes epidemiological control of the disease impractical. About 6% of people who have had mono will relapse.

Since mononucleosis can cause the spleen to swell, it may in rare cases lead to a ruptured spleen. Rupture may occur without trauma, but impact to the spleen is usually a factor.

Mono may resemble strep throat or other bacterial or viral respiratory infections. It is rarely fatal, but death may result from severe hepatitis or splenic rupture.

Usually, the longer the infected person experiences the symptoms the more it weakens the person's immune system and the longer he/she will need to recover.

Symptoms similar to those of mononucleosis can be caused by adenovirus and the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii.

Disclaimer: Information shared in this section is indicative. Please do not make any conclusion and we strongly recommend you to consult with your Doctor. Symptoms may vary with individual, geography, climate and lifestyle