Symptoms of Mononucleosis Disease

¬†Mononucleosis is a disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is a member of the herpes family. The herpes family also includes viruses that cause cold sores, chickenpox, genital herpes, and birth defects (7). Mono, short for mononucleosis (3) “gets its name from the fact that it causes a person”s white blood cells to become distorted so that they have only one nucleus (becoming mononuclear) instead of the usually divided nucleus.” (3).

The first accounts of mono are credited to Filatov and Pfeiffer who around the end of the nineteenth century described an illness known as Drusenfieber or glandular fever which occurred in family outbreaks. However, the establishment of mono is given to Sprunt and Evans. In 1921 they pointed out the mononuclear lymphocytosis that was present in each patient they treated. Two years later, Downey and McKinley provided more details of the lymphocytes as a marker that led to the disease. (6).

The idea of EBV being connected to mono came about in 1958 by Burkitt. There were some cases in Africa of young children having tumors in their jaw and dying even when the tumor was removed. He later found out that the patients were coming from areas highly infested with mosquitoes, so they figured that the mosquitoes were related. The mosquitoes were carrying a virus in the herpes family, which was later called the Epstein-Barr virus. This virus was later revealed to be linked with mono. (6).

Anyone can get mono but it is most common in teens and young adults, mostly high school, and college students. Children who are infected with EBV when they are really young are able to manufacture antibodies against the virus. If a person”s body does not have EBV already they will most likely contract the virus later in their life and be able to build these antibodies. Only a small amount of teens and young adults actually get mono because they have already been exposed to EBV at a younger age.

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