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The Carletonian

The Carletonian


    <no, aka “the kissing disease” is one of the most common ailments on college campuses today. Here are the facts about mono and some tips on how to avoid it (like the plague).

    What exactly is Mono?

    Also known as glandular fever, Infectious Mononucleosis is an illness caused by the Epstein – Barr virus(EBV). The Epstein-Barr Virus is part of the herpes virus family. The term “mononucleosis” itself refers to the increase in lymphocytes – a certain strand of white blood cells -as a result of the EBV infection.

    Symptoms associated with Mono include sore throat, fever and fatigue.

    Who can get Mono?

    Most people have been exposed to EBV without developing mononucleosis. 95% of adults in the U.S. have developed EBV antibodies by the age of 40, suggesting that the vast majority have all been exposed to EBV at one point or another.

    Teens and young adults are most susceptible to Mono, the peak age range fall between 15 and 17.

    Younger children can also become infected with Mono, but since symptoms often mimic those of other common childhood illnesses, diagnoses are uncommon. When exposed to the virus as a child, the body develops immunity towards the virus by making antibodies, preventing the development of Mono symptoms through the rest of the life.

    How does one catch Mono?

    Spread through person-to-person contact, Mono is most usually transmitted through saliva, thus gaining its nickname. It can also be spread through coughing or sneezing during which droplets of salvia or mucus are transmitting into the air and may be inhaled by someone else. Sharing drinks and utensils can also allow for the transmission of salvia.

    How long does Mono stay in the system?

    When the viral infection for Mono is contracted it may take anywhere from four to six weeks for symptoms to appear, a time known as “the incubation period.”

    During this time, individuals can be contagious for at least a number of weeks. Anywhere from 20-80% of people who have contracted and recovered from Mono may continue to secrete EBV in their saliva for years afterwards but appear perfectly healthy.

    It is believed these people’s secretion of EBV in their salvia is the cause for the continual transmission of Mono and EBV among humans.

    What are the symptoms and effects of Mono?

    Initial symptoms of Mono include a general lack of energy (known as malaise), muscle weakness, a loss of appetite and the chills. These can last for one to three days before the appearance of the more intense symptoms; severe, reddened sore throat and tonsils; fever reaching between 102 and 104 º F; and swollen lymph node glands in the neck. Patients may also experience intense dizziness, abdominal pain, swollen eyes, diarrhea and depression. About 50% of patients with Mono may experience a swollen spleen. A whitish coating of the tonsils or an inflamed liver (hepatitis) may also occur. Occasionally a measles-like, splotchy red rash may spread over the body.

    Only about 6% of people who contract Mono ever relapse. Those who demonstrate symptoms for six months are known to have “chronic EBV infection.” Fortunately, the more severe effects of Mono are very rare, although it can sometimes cause severe damages to the heart. EBV has also been linked to certain types of cancers but for the most part is not fatal.

    What is the treatment for Mono?

    There is no definitive treatment for Mono, but sleep and rest are the most effective. While Mono may be contracted simultaneously with Strep Throat, medications that treat Strep may be taken. This sore throat is worst during the first five to seven days of the illness, but then begins to subside. Swollen glands may subside after the third week.

    Over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol may be taken for fever or head and body aches. To prevent harm to an enlarged spleen, patients should avoid sports or other strenuous activities for six to eight weeks following the onset of infection.

    Watch out for Mono because no campus is safe from it, even Carleton. To protect yourself, limit your saliva swapping by not sharing drinks or utensils. More questions about mono? Contact SWARachel Schwartz at [email protected], ask your SWAs, or contact The Wellness Center.

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