Infectious mononucleosis is a viral disease that causes great fatigue and a sore throat. Very contagious, it is known as the "kissing disease" as it is most often transmitted by saliva. What are its symptoms and how can it be treated?
What is Mononucleosis?
Infectious mononucleosis is a disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, a family of herpes viruses. It mainly manifests itself through great fatigue, a sore threat, and high fever. It is often called the "kissing disease" as it is most often transmitted by saliva.
Mononucleosis goes unnoticed in most cases if it is contracted before puberty. The child is then immune for the rest of their life, with the body developing antibodies to fight the virus, which remains dormant. On the other hand, adolescence is the most risky period, during which the disease can lead to serious complications.
Symptoms of Mononucleosis
At the end of the incubation period, which is 4 to 6 weeks longs, mononucleosis can be characterized by the following symptoms:
- very tired
- high fever, often over 39°C
- swollen and painful ganglia
- angina accompanied by difficulties swallowing
- loss of appetite
- muscle pain (myalgia)
Fever and sore throat typically disappear after three weeks, but the fatigue can last for several months.
How Contagious is Mononucleosis?
Mononucleosis is considered an easily transmissible disease. The Epstein-Barr virus is transmitted mainly through saliva. The infected person is contagious from the first days of infection, even before the first symptoms appear.
The risk of contagion of mononucleosis varies according to the rate of virus contained in the body. The higher the level of virus is in the patient, the more contagious it is. Contagion is therefore highest during the acute phase of the disease. Even after the patient is healed, the virus is still present in small amounts of saliva. Its transmission is still possible for several months.
Treatment of Mononucleosis
There is no specific treatment for infectious mononucleosis. The disease cures itself after a few months. Drug management is therefore intended to monitor its evolution and prevent possible complications.
As mononucleosis is a viral disease, taking antibiotics is useless. Analgesis and antipyretics may be prescribed to reduce fever and sore throat. Aspirin is strongly discouraged in children and adolescents because it can cause, in rare cases, Reye's syndrome, which is a life-threatening disease.