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Too Much of a Good Thing 2: Mono

by Beth Divine 9 Sep 2018

Mononucleosis, usually shortened to mono, and also called ‘The Kissing Disease’ is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus. Or rather, it is a group of symptoms caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, with each person reacting slightly differently to the virus.

Mono is generally spread through saliva, which is why it is called ‘The Kissing Disease’, and it is a disease most commonly found in teenagers – a demographic that spends a lot of its time learning how to and practising snogging.

Symptoms of mono are very similar to that of flu: fever, sore throat, aches and pains and feeling generally weaker than usual, fatigue and headachy. Sufferers can be plagued with night sweats too. Unlike flu which usually runs ten days to a couple of weeks, mono can last for months. The incubation period – the time between contracting the disease and symptoms starting to show – lasts between four and six weeks. This is plenty of time for horny teenagers to swap a lot of spit with on-again off-again relationships and experimentation. Once symptoms start, they can run for up to two months.

This means that mono has very long cycle – especially when compared with summer colds that can be as short as three days duration but that more normally run for nine days (‘Three days to come, three days to stream, and three days to go’ as the old wives’ tale would have it, with some commonsensical truth). This long cycle, and especially the long incubation period, mean that once mono takes hold in a group of friends (especially if they are fairly tactile, hugging and kissing and holding hands together) it can take a very long time to shake free of it.

Tests for the disease can be run by your doctor, but they will usually diagnose you based on your proximity to a current outbreak if one is ongoing. Tests can be cultures or full blood tests, with the more accurate tests able to pick up infection within a week, thereby staving off the possibility of the disease spreading more widely.

The good thing with mono – and all ailments caused by the Epstein-Barr virus – is that it is one of those that the body only needs to get once. Antibodies, once created by the body, last a very long time, and most people will only get mono once – usually as a teenager at which point they will have to put up with knowing nods and jokes about who they’ve been kissing recently. But one and done – once they’ve had it once, it won’t be back again.