Saint Xavier University Students

Common Illnesses


What causes infectious mononucleosis (MONO)?

Mono, sometimes called glandular fever or "the kissing disease" is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, a member of the herpes virus family. Infection with this virus causes a sudden increase in mononuclear leukocytes.

How did I get it?

Saliva is the main mode of passing Mono. In other words, no friendly peck on the cheek or the lips will transmit it. Saliva must be passed from one person to the other. Eating with the same utensils and drinking out of the same glass may spread the virus.

Why don't I remember any contacts?

The incubation period for Mono is long - 30 to 50 days. Add to that the fact that people who have had mono may carry the virus in their throats for a longer period of time (months) after the illness. They may feel perfectly well and have forgotten their illness.

How contagious is it? Will my roommates get it?

"Epidemics" of Mono have not been proven. In fact, it is seldom transmitted to roommates or close friends unless the above mentioned mode of transmission occurred. Families rarely share it.

How do you know I really have Mono since viruses are hard to detect?

Careful diagnosis is made by the presence of three factors, all of which need to be present for a definite diagnosis:

  1. Your symptoms - some or all of the following: fatigue, sweats, sore throat, no appetite, nausea, headache, chills, and muscle aches. (Sounds like the flu.)
  2. Your signs - some or all of the following: lymph node enlargement, fever (often low-grade), red and swollen throat, enlarged spleen, puffy eyes and spots on your palate. As you may have guessed while reading these symptoms and signs, they can be present in many other illnesses. Therefore, you also need to have the following blood tests.
  3. Mono test must be positive. Sometimes the first test is not positive but later tests will be. The mono test is not positive until symptoms have been present for almost one week.
  4. Blood count -- a complete blood count (CBC) with differential. Changes must be noted in your white blood cells which can be checked by the above test and interpreted by your health care provider.

If these three factors are not all present, you probably have something else and should have further tests and exams.

What can I do at home to feel better and recover quicker?

  1. Get a lot of rest.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids.
  3. Report any pain in the upper left area of abdomen or in shoulder area.
  4. Make sure to wash hands thoroughly and regularly throughout the day.
  5. Avoid the following activities while feeling ill:
    • Sharing utensils with others
    • Sharing drinking glasses with other
    • Kissing or sharing oral secretion with others
  6. Avoid the following activities at least one month following illness:
    • Heavy lifting
    • Contact sports
    • Strenuous activity
    • Alcohol consumption
  7. Avoid donating blood if recently recovering from the illness.
  8. Avoid ampicillin or amoxicillin during illness.
  9. Recovery is usually 2 or 4 weeks, but may last up to 2 or 3 months.