Often known as the "kissing disease," Mono mostly affects adolescents and young adults during the spring and fall. Symptoms of the disease include:
- Excessive tiredness
- Sustained high fever
Mono is easily transmitted through saliva and body fluids, which is why it has been dubbed the "kissing disease." Other methods of transmission exist, however. Such methods include toothbrushes, the sharing of glasses and cups, and silverware. Owing to the fact that the incubation period is so large (One to two months), it is usually quite difficult to pinpoint the source of the virus.
Caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, the disease causes high fever (101 to 105°F ), the spleen enlarges, and the liver may become inflamed. In severe cases, the spleen may rupture. In fact, Mononucleosis can attack the nervous system, causing coma, meningitis, encephalitis, or peripheral neuritis.
Typically, mono will do little more than cause a bit of weakness and sleepiness for 7 to 10 days. In most cases, the victim is unaware that he/she has had the disease. In other cases, the victim may be bedridden for months on end and require hospitalization. Lets take a walk through a severe case, for the sake of realizing the capabilities of mononucleosis.
-On March 2nd, Kate wakes up with a mild headache. Her legs and arms are also mildly sore. Not thinking much of it, she gets up and continues about her normal routine.
The next 3 or so days are the same, Kate is tired, aching, and a light headache persists.
-On March 6th, Kate begins to develop a sore throat and swollen glands in her neck. Her mother takes her in for a throat culture that evening the results are negative. Given a "complete blood count" test (CBC), it is determined that Kate has mononucleosis. The test detects a rise in the count of white blood cells in the blood.
-By March 11th, Kate is incredibly tired, and spends most of her time in bed sleeping or watching the TV set that her parents were so kind to bring into her room. Her neck is nearly as wide as her head, and when friends visit, they either smile in a sort of odd discomfort or look at Kate in total awe.
-On March 20th, Kate is still in the same condition; Shes tired, sore, and has a sore throat. To be sure that Kate doesnt have Leukemia or Hepatitis, they perform what is called a "monospot." In this test, they take a drop of Kates blood and, mix it with a test reagent and then let it sit for a few minutes. If the red blood cells clump together, the patient has mono. Kate has tested positive once again.
-On April 23rd, Kate begins to feel less tired. Shes on some drugs to help control the virus, and her immune system is working overtime to eradicate it. Though her neck is still swollen, she almost feels that she is able to walk. Her doctor thinks not.
-By April 30th, Kate is walking again. Shes still out of school, and will be for some time yet. Her mind is not yet functioning at its peak, and shes not in good physical shape. Started on a walking program, Kate is trying to fix this problem.
-On May 14th, having finished up her make-up work, and feeling nearly well again, Kate returns to school. She will never get mono again, having built up defensive antibodies to destroy the virus if it is ever present again.
Though this scenario comes true for very few mono patients, it does happen. Incredibly, nearly all middle aged adults have had mononucleosis at some point or another, whether they knew it or not. (90% of 40 year olds have mono antibodies in their blood)
Fortunately, Mononucleosis is rarely deadly, and usually does not cause any long term damage.
There isnt a whole lot you can do to prevent yourself from getting mono, but if you have it, get yourself checked for any trace of the virus a year later, as some people can be permanent carriers of the disease. Fortunately, mono is usually a one time occurrence so you don't really need to worry about contracting it a second time.