Mononucleosis or mono is a contagious viral infection caused most commonly by the Epstein-Barr virus. However, mono can develop from other viruses as well. Mono is usually not serious, and most people don't develop this disorder more than once. Once the body has this virus, it usually develops immunity against it. However, in rare cases, complications can develop from mono that creates serious health conditions. Some of these conditions can include an enlarged or ruptured spleen that could require surgery. In other rare cases, problems with the liver can develop resulting in hepatitis or jaundice. Some people have even developed disorders of the nervous system, anemia, swollen tonsils, heart problems, and thrombocytopenia, a condition that lowers the body's blood clotting platelets.
A person with mono typically experiences a sore throat and fever. However, these symptoms usually taper off within a few weeks. Symptoms like tiredness, swollen lymph nodes, and an enlarged spleen can persist longer, however. The typical incubation period for mono is six weeks but this period is usually shorter for children. Also, the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mono can have a bigger impact on people who have HIV as well as people taking drugs to suppress their immunity.
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Currently, there is no vaccine for mono. However, there are effective measures you can take to prevent getting the virus and spreading it if you have it. The virus is spread through saliva. As a result, you shouldn't share food or drinks or use other peoples utensils. The virus can be present in your saliva months after the infection has cleared.
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