Infectious mononucleosis is a viral disease that is most often caused by primary infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which belongs to the group of herpes viruses. How do you get mono?
How can you get infected
EBV virus, like other viruses of the Herpesviridae family, is characterized by the ability to infect a person for life (so-called latency) with periodic reactivation and excretion in body fluids (e.g. saliva or respiratory secretions). The sources of infection are patients with infectious mononucleosis, convalescent patients, people undergoing asymptomatic EBV infection, and virus carriers. After undergoing infectious mononucleosis, the healer remains a source of viruses for several to several months, after which he periodically excretes EBV in saliva until the end of his life. Patients with asymptomatic hatching may also be infected. EBV infection occurs as a result of direct contact with a sick person (saliva, secretion of the nasopharynx), rarely by droplet. The infection gate is the nasopharynx. The incubation period for infectious mononucleosis is quite long, 30-50 days.
It is also called “kissing disease” because it can be infected through contact with body fluids, e.g. as a result of a kiss, or by using the same cups, bottles, or dishes. The virus enters the epithelial cells of the mouth and throat, and then enters the bloodstream. Almost the entire population has a positive EBV antibody response. The incubation time is from one to two months (30 – 50 days), and the virus remains in the body for the rest of its life, activating in states of reduced immunity.
Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis
Symptoms of the disease often resemble flu or a cold, so they can be misinterpreted. The mononucleosis hatching period is quite long and ranges from 30 to 50 days. Initially, the patient is accompanied by general weakness and fatigue as well as headaches, muscles and joints. Over time, it is accompanied by a fever, even above 38.5 ° C, which lasts longer than in the case of other viral diseases, because for over two weeks and cannot be easily reduced with antipyretics. There is inflammation of the throat and tonsils, which can be covered with extensive white coatings. A characteristic macular-papular rash resembling that of scarlet fever or rubella appears. There is a generalized lymph node enlargement. There may also be swelling of the face, mainly around the eyelids (often in young children) and the base of the nose. It is usually accompanied by rhinitis. In mononucleosis, the liver and spleen are also enlarged.
How to protect yourself from illness
There is virtually no protection against mononucleosis. People who have suffered from illness and have recovered for several months are a source of infection. Moreover, for the rest of the life of EBV infected people periodically, the pathogen appears in saliva. They also infect people during the asymptomatic hatching period. It is therefore impossible to completely isolate yourself from the sources of infection. Still, keep in mind the basic principles of hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and avoiding sharing items that may have come in contact with saliva (bottles, cups, plates, cutlery).
Fortunately, mononucleosis is a self-limiting disease. Its symptoms disappear after 2-3 months. After its storage, we gain lasting immunity for life.