The Kissing Disease
What is infectious mononucleosis? Infectious mononucleosis is a disease characterized by fever, sore throat, and enlarged lymph nodes, which is caused by Epstein-Barr virus – one of the herpeviruses. Teenagers and young adults usually catch infectious mononucleosis by kissing or having other intimate contact with someone infected with the virus.
What are the symptoms? Infectious mononucleosis may or may not produce symptoms. The usual time between infection and the appearance of symptoms (incubation period) is thought to be between 30 and 50 days. The four major symptoms are fatigue (usually most pronounced in the first two to three weeks), a fever (usually peaking at around 103 degrees in the afternoon or early evening), sore throat, and swelling of the lymph nodes. However, not everyone has all four symptoms. Usually, the infection begins with a feeling of illness that lasts several days to a week. Then comes a fever, sore throat, and enlarged lymph nodes. In more than 50 percent of people, the spleen also enlarges.
Diagnosis. A primary health care provider diagnoses infectious mononucleosis based on symptoms. Because the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis are not specific and may resemble those of other infections, it is important you contact your primary health care provider if you are having these symptoms.
Prognosis and treatment. Most people with infectious mononucleosis recover fully. The length of the illness varies, with the acute phase lasting about two weeks. Individuals are encouraged to rest until the fever, sore throat, and feeling of illness disappear, after which most people are able to resume their usual activities. However, fatigue may persist for several more weeks and occasionally for months. Because of the risk of rupturing the spleen, heavy lifting and contact sports should be avoided for six to eight weeks, even if the spleen isn’t noticeably enlarged.
What to do to prevent transmission of “The Kissing Disease”:
- Good and consistent hand washing
- Eat nutritious food
- Adequate sleep
- Do not share towels, toothbrushes, water glasses, silverware, etc.
- Make sure people are covering their mouths if coughing.
IF YOU ARE ILL AND NOT GETTING BETTER OR ARE HAVING MORE SEVERE SYMPTOMS WITHIN 48 HOURS, CONTACT YOUR PRIMARY HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.