Mononucleosis, A.K.A The Kissing Disease

Mononucleosis, EBV: signs, precautions and symptoms I should watch for.

Epstein- Barr Virus or Mononucleosis has been called the "kissing disease" for several generations, but can be a very severe and debilitating illness for most that do develop it. This is mostly seen in high school and college students but not limited to them. Once a person is infected, the household has the possibility of getting this disorder also.

Causes:

This condition is spread person-to-person, much like cold and flu are. Coming in contact with a person infected, by kissing (saliva), sharing of utensils, toys, pencils, pens etc of the infected person. At rare instances it is passed by blood transfusions. To prevent further spread any body fluid exchange, or sharing of utensils should be prohibited.

Signs and Symptoms:

Sore throat, fever that may be low grade for up to a week or more, weakness, very tired, sleeping a lot, dizziness, may or may not complain of tenderness in the abdomen. Most people complain they just cannot stay awake long enough to concentrate, physical activity tire them out easily. Symptoms may take four to six weeks after exposure to be present. So, unfortunately many people have infected others without knowing. It is very important to contact the school to let them know your child is ill, as well as each child your child or yourself has come in contact with. If anyone else in your household have the same symptoms all should be checked for EBV.



Diagnosis:

Often a physician will first run a strep test depending on the symptoms, and then run an EBV blood test to see if they are infected. If this test comes back positive and active, the patient is then notified. This test can also tell if it is an old infection that is recurring, or if they have been infective before but not reactive at the moment. Since the throat can shed this virus without an infection being present for up to a year after infected.

Treatment:

Treatment is usually symptomatic in nature, rest, plenty of fluids and Tylenol for discomfort. The patient is told about safety and possible problems arising from this infection. The abdomen, spleen and liver should always be protected. Using seatbelts while in a car, no contact sport or other physically straining activity while the infection is current. This is a precautionary measure to prevent the spleen from being ruptured, as it is very susceptible during this phase of the disease. Your child will be asked to stay home from school, and home study or be tutored until they are well enough to return to school. There is no vaccine or medication available for this condition.

This should not be mistaken for medical advice, if you or your child have these symptoms please contact your physician so he or she may treat accordingly.

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