General Illness Information

Medical Term: Mononucleosis

Common Name: None Specified

Description: An acute illness,characterised by fever, sore throat and enlarged lymph glands, caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus.

Causes: The causative agent is the Epstein-Barr virus.  After gaining entry to the nasopharynx and replicating, the virus infects B lymphocytes in the body.

Prevention: Avoid contact with persons having infectious mononucleosis.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Fever.
  • Sore throat (sometimes severe).
  • Fatigue.
  • Swollen lymph glands, usually in the neck, underarms or groin.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Headache.
  • Rash.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Enlarged liver.
  • Jaundice with yellow skin and eyes (sometimes).
  • General aching and malaise.

Risk Factors

  • Stress, fatigue.
  • Illness that has lowered resistance.
  • People exposed to crowded close conditions, for example, military recruits, college and high school students.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The diagnosis is made by clinical findings, and blood tests.  A Monospot blood test will be positive.

General Measures:

  • No specific cure is available. Extra rest and healthy diet are important. There is no need to isolate the patient.
  • To relieve the sore throat, gargle frequently with warm salt water (1 teaspoon of salt to 8 oz. of water). Commercial preparations may be of benefit.
  • Complications must be identified, and managed.


  • For minor discomfort,  non-prescription drugs such as acetaminophen may be used.  Don’t take aspirin because of its suspected association with Reye’s syndrome.
  • Antibiotics and antivirals are not indicated.


Rest in bed, especially when you have fever. Resume activity gradually. Rest when you are fatigued.  Don’t participate in contact sports until at least 2 months after complete recovery.


No special diet. You may not feel like eating while you are ill. Maintain an adequate fluid intake. Drink at least 8 glasses of water or juice a day or more during periods of high fever.

Possible Complications:

  • Most cases resolve spontaneously. In rare cases, complications can cause serious problems.
  • Central nervous system complications include encephalitis, seizures, neuropathy, aseptic meningitis.
  • Hematological complications include rupture of the spleen, low white cell counts, and anemia.
  • Hepatic complications involve elevated enzyme levels.
  • Pulmonary complications involve airway obstruction and pneumonia.


Spontaneous recovery in 10 days to 6 months. Fatigue frequently persists for 3 to 6 weeks after other symptoms disappear. A few patients experience a chronic form in which symptoms persist for several months or years.


Nothing Specified.

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