It’s known as the “kissing disease.” Symptoms include fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, fatigue and general discomfort. Common among young adults, mononucleosis, mono for short, is a viral illness caused by the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV).
Even though many people are aware of this virus, it’s important to know the facts. “Mono is transmitted through contact with mucus or saliva, or by airborne droplets of mucus or saliva,” explains Jenny Monn, health services. While the reality that mono is contracted by exposure to an infected person may be one reason it’s referred to as the “kissing disease,” the medical explanation, according to Monn, is “the tonsils in the back of the throat enlarge to the point that they are touching or ‘kissing.’”
Once diagnosed, mono can take six months to one year to completely resolve. Unfortunately, there is no antiviral medication or vaccine available for mono—treatment is symptomatic and supportive, “but medical supervision is absolutely necessary,” adds Monn.
Patients with mono are instructed to: obtain 10-12 hours of sleep a day, avoid strenuous exercise, alcohol and caffeine, increase intake of fluids and eat a well-balanced diet.
Just like the common cold or flu, you can get mono more than once. Stay healthy—wash your hands and avoid sharing eating utensils or toothbrushes. For more information on mononucleosis, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/ebv.htm.