IM is most commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), or the cytomegalovirus, both members of the herpes simplex virus family. The disease is usually characterized by swollen lymph glands and fatigue.
By the time a person reaches adulthood, he/she has usually been exposed to the EBV. When children are infected, they usually do not experience any noticeable symptoms. When uninfected adolescents and young adults come in contact with the virus, nearly 50% develop infectious mononucleosis.
- Swollen lymph glands in the neck, armpits and groin
- Constant fatigue
- Sore throat due to tonsillitis
- Enlarged spleen
- Liver involvement
- Complete medical history and physical exam
- White blood cell count
- Antibody test
- Rest for about one month (to give body’s immune system time to destroy the virus)
- Corticosteroids (to reduce swelling of throat and tonsils)
How is IM spread?
- Contact with infected saliva from the mouth.
Symptoms can take 4-6 weeks to appear and usually do not last beyond four months. Transmission is impossible to prevent – even symptom-free individuals can carry the virus in their saliva.
Once an individual has had mononucleosis, the virus remains dormant for the rest of the person’s life. Once exposed to EBV, an individual is usually not at risk for developing mononucleosis again.
Source: Centers for Disease Control