Mononucleosis, better known as mono, is a disease caused by the virus Epstein-Barr virus, or EBV.
According to the family health Web site, http://familydoctor.org, this disease is most common in people from 15 to 35 years old.
Mono can be passed from one person to another in several ways. The actual virus is found in saliva and mucus. It can be passed by performing an act as simple as sharing eating utensils or straws with a person who has mono.
But mono is most commonly passed through kissing, which is why the disease has been coined the “kissing disease.”Uloma Onubogu, a FAMU nursing professor, said although mono is typically spread through kissing, it should not be confused with a sexually transmitted disease.
Mono is an infection caused by a virus that can be transmitted through the air, just like the common cold.
For people just getting into a new relationship, it is possible the new partner may have mono and not know it.
This is because after a person is exposed to the mono virus, symptoms generally do not show up for four to six weeks.
Onubogu said symptoms of mono are quite similar to those of the flu and include constant fatigue, fever, sore throat, loss of appetite, swollen glands in the neck, sore muscles, skin rashes and abdominal pain.
Candice Martin, a 22-year-old nursing student from Miami, said that although she has never contracted mono that knows it is not anything to be taken lightly.
“I’ve never had an experience with mono, but I know a lot of illnesses start out with flu-like symptoms,” Martin said. “If I started feeling these symptoms, I would go to the doctor and probably have them check for everything.”
Health professionals suggest a person inform his or her partner if he or she has mono or any of the symptoms associated with the virus to prevent spreading.
While mono does not seem like a life-threatening disease, if it is left undiagnosed or untreated it can become very dangerous.Onubogu said the most obvious mono symptoms are extreme fatigue and feelings of weakness.
“Mono is strange because it can debilitate a person,” Onubogu said. “It can alter your vitality and energy and make you extremely tired if left untreated.”
The most serious concern with leaving mono untreated is that the spleen, which filters the blood, will possibly enlarge and even rupture. This could possibly result in death.
Derek Rothenberger, 19, a Florida State University marine biology student from Tampa, remembered the breakout of mono in his middle school.
“Mono was really big when I was like 13 years old or something,” Rothenberger said. “I remember if you had a girlfriend who popped up with mono, it was scandalous because it was like she cheated on you.”
But Onubogu explained that just because two people are in a committed relationship and only one catches mono, it does not necessarily mean the person with mono caught it from someone outside of the relationship.
It is possible the person in the relationship who does not have any symptoms of mono may have had the virus in his or her body and passed it along to the partner.
If a person’s partner is diagnosed with mono it is no cause for alarm.
It simply means that the couple cannot share each other’s personal space for a while because the person with mono needs to recover fully to prevent any spreading of the infection.
Rothenberger said he is much more mature now, so if his partner came down with mono he wouldn’t be upset.
“We’re adults now,” Rothenberger said. “I know that she could have gotten mono so many other ways than just kissing.”Mono will go away eventually, but it is important to take the necessary measures to minimize symptoms and reduce the recovery period.
Because mono is a virus it can’t be cured by antibiotics and there is no real cure. Rest is often seen as the best medicine for mono.
Onubogu insists the only way to get better from mono is to be supplied with medicine, proper nutrition and plenty of rest.
Rest is key because even if a person has recovered from mono because it takes a while to regain the optimum level of energy that he or she may have had before the fatigue became severe.
Regular physicals are key in catching the virus, and Onubogu advises students to get checked as soon as they have any feel any sign that might indicate mono.
“If you experience any of the symptoms of mono, when you go to the doctor to see what’s wrong, you should ask for a mono spot test too,” Onubogu said.