Mononucleosis (Mono)

February … month of love. Pretty soon roses will be everywhere, chocolates will be bought in bulk and the lip balm and mints will come in handy for those smooches. It is all so romantic.

But what if you are too tired and sick to enjoy it? For those with Mononucleosis, that is the case. We’ve all heard of Mono, the “kissing disease” that abounds on junior high play yards. While it may be fodder for a good teasing, Mono can be serious. Let’s take a peek at the ins and outs.

According to the CDC, the Epstein-Barr virus is the most common cause of infectious Mono, although other viruses can cause it as well. These viruses are spread commonly through bodily fluids, especially saliva. This makes Mono common among teens and young adults.

Once infected, symptoms begin to appear within four to six weeks. These symptoms can include extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat, achy head and body, rash, swollen lymph nodes and swollen liver and/or spleen. While most people improve in two to four weeks, some may feel the fatigue for several more weeks or even several months. It should also be noted that due to the possibility of your spleen swelling, those with Mono should avoid contact sports or strenuous activities that could potentially cause the spleen to rupture.

While there is no vaccine for Mono, you can protect yourself by not sharing food, drinks or personal items with people who have infectious Mono. Unfortunately this includes smooches, at least until the person is no longer infectious. To relieve symptoms, try drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, getting plenty of rest and over-the-counter medications to help with aches and pains and fever.

Hopefully this served as an insightful bit of education and not a Valentine damper. After all, Sleeping Beauty may be beautiful in the movies, but it’s hard to be romantic when your date is asleep in her salad. As always, stay safe and WASH YOUR HANDS!

Pam Burton, RN, CIC, HACP and James Willhelm, RN – Infection Prevention

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