This is a viral illness that usually results in fever, sore throat and swollen glands. It is spread by close contact with an infected person.
Mononucleosis, or "mono," is a viral infection typically caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or cytomegalovirus (CMV). The virus is spread by close contact with an infected person, especially with their saliva. The length of time someone with mono is contagious varies, but it can be up to several months. If someone has symptoms of mono, or is recovering from mono, you should avoid kissing them or sharing their food, beverages or eating utensils.
The symptoms of mono usually begin gradually and start with a headache, sore throat and general fatigue. The symptoms gradually worsen. Frequently, a white or yellow discharge can be seen on the tonsils, which are typically swollen and red. People who have mono often feel very poorly. Other symptoms may include:
Occasionally people with mono develop symptoms that resemble hepatitis. A pink rash, that resembles the measles, can also develop. This is more common if you are taking an antibiotic like amoxicillin for a positive strep test. (Antibiotics should only be given for a sore throat if you have a POSITIVE strep test.)
If you have symptoms of mono, your healthcare provider will most likely perform an in-office test for mono. A test called "antibody titer" may also be ordered to determine if this is a current or past infection. The goal of treatment is to relieve the symptoms and allow the body time to heal. Antiviral drugs are not helpful in treating mono and antibiotics are only needed if there is secondary bacterial infection. There are some things you can do to relieve your symptoms and prevent complications of mono.
It is important that you avoid any contact sports or activities that might put excess pressure on the spleen and cause it to rupture. A ruptured spleen is one of the serious consequences of a mononucleosis infection and can be life threatening.
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you or your child has symptoms of mono. It is important that you make sure all activity is kept at a minimum.
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