Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is better known as the human herpesvirus 4. It just happens to be the most common human virus, which is found globally with nearly everyone being infected at some point in their life. EBV is linked to mononucleosis or mono.
Mono Symptoms in Children
Most often than not, mono does not cause symptoms in young children (CDC). If symptoms do occur, it becomes hard to determine their cause, because they are similar to most mild childhood illnesses that only last for a brief period.
Symptoms of Mono in Adults and Teens
It is important to note that not everyone will not exhibit the same symptoms of Mono and the symptoms may linger around varyingly.
While most victims of Mono will begin to feel better after 2-4 weeks, others will feel extremely fatigued for much longer, even months.
Symptoms of mono in women and mono symptoms in men will most likely be similar in nature.
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes in neck region (lymph nodes in nearby areas may also become involved)
- Generalized rash
- Splenomegaly (enlarged spleen caused by Mono infection)
- Hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)
- Extreme fatigue
Mono Virus Becomes Latent
Once an individual becomes infected with the EBV and it runs its course, the virus will become latent or inactive.
In most cases, the virus will not become reactivated throughout the individual’s lifespan, but in some cases it can. If at any time the individual becomes immunocompromised, the EBV symptoms will reactivate.
How Does Mono Spread?
Mono spreads through direct contact through sex, blood, or bodily fluids. It is most often spread through kissing and exchange of saliva, but it can also spread through blood transfusions and organ transplantation.
EBV or Mono Incubation Period
As soon as the individual becomes infected with EBV, they are contagious, which makes it so difficult to prevent spread of the virus, because the symptoms will not appear until later on.
The incubation period can vary between 4-7 weeks, which begins at the time of contamination and ends at the onset of symptoms.
The period of contagiousness for Mono has not been fully determined, so the individual may be contagious for up to 18 months after symptoms have subsided.
At which time the virus will go latent, but again the contagious period has not been scientifically determined.
Early Signs of Mono
The first signs of the “Kissing disease” will vary and may include all or some of the symptoms below:
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches and pains
Serum testing is available and very effective in detecting EBV.
- Anti-EA IgG – detectable during the acute phase and will become undetectable after 3-6 months
- Viral Capsid Antigen – appears in the early stages of EBV and will disappear with 4-6 weeks
- Monospot Test – is not very effective in diagnosis mononucleosis, since it will render a false positive or false negative results
- EBV Nuclear Antigen – appears within the 2-4 months, after onset of symptoms
How To Cure Mono?
- There is no specific cure for Mono and most often than not, it is left to run its course.
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Over the counter analgesics (Tylenol)
You should not share beverages, eating utensils, or toothbrushes with others. Make sure that you wash your hands frequently, since the skin is the biggest defense against bacteria and viruses.
If you want to find out more, be sure to read our Infectious Diseases post.