Infectious mononucleosis

From ArticleWorld

Infectious mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus or the cytomegalovirus. It commonly appears in adolescents and young adults, and it is often transmitted by kissing. However, despite common belief, it is not a highly contagious disease. Besides, about 95% of the adults worldwide have antibodies against EBV.

Signs and symptoms

The time between the infection and the occurrence of the symptoms varies greatly. Symptoms normally appear after 4-7 weeks, but the infection may be present for months without showing any signs. The symptoms resemble those of a common cold or flu: fever (mild or severe, but present in most cases), enlarged and tender lymph nodes, sore throat and fatigue. Some patients may display other, more serious symptoms, like enlarged spleen or liver (which can even lead to ruptures), aching muscles and abdomen, skin rashes, sinus infection or depression. The symptoms normally last between 1 and 2 months, but the virus can remain in B cells and cause them again after some time, with relapses occurring in abut 6% of the cases. In fact, many infected people do not show the symptoms, but they carry the virus and can transmit it. Due to the long incubation period of the disease, it is practically impossible to exercise epidemiological control of this disease.


Because mononucleosis is a viral affliction, antibiotic treatment is not effective. There is no remedy for the infectious mononucleosis itself, but generic support therapy to ameliorate the symptoms and help the immune system fight against the disease. Aspirin, paracetamol, ampicilin and amoxicilin should be avoided because of the symptoms they cause when used to treat mononucleosis. The patient should benefit of as much rest as possible and drink a lot of fluids while avoiding caffeine should be avoided. Even after the symptoms have disappeared, monitoring should continue, in order to avoid spleen rupture, and anyone involved in contact sports should receive medical clearance before returning to activity. A recovery period is necessary, because infectious mononucleosis weakens the immune system.