Epstein-Barr virus is also called human herpesvirus 4 and it just happens to be the most common virus that infects humans. EBV has been reported to have nearly infected everyone globally at some point in their life. Human herpesvirus 4 is linked to mononucleosis or mono, which is often what it is called.
Symptoms of Mono in Kids
It has been reported more often than not that Mono does not cause symptoms in young kids (CDC). Most symptoms that are linked to Mono are similar to those that are linked to other communicable childhood diseases, which only last for a brief period of time.
Symptoms of Mono in Teenagers
Mono symptoms and the length of time that they linger around will vary from person to person. Not every victim of Mono will exhibit with all of the symptoms, as a matter of fact some may exhibit only 1-2 symptoms, while others will suffer from them all.
- Sore throat
- Neck swollen lymph nodes (nearby lymph nodes may also be involved)
- Generalized rash
- Splenomegaly (enlarged spleen)
- Hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)
- Fatigue and weakness
- Low-grade fever
Mono Virus Latency
The EBV will become latent or inactive, after the symptoms have completely disappeared. While EBV normally does not reactivate at any point throughout the individual’s life, there are risks of reactivation, especially if the individual becomes immunocompromised at any time.
Mononucleosis spreads through direct contact through blood and bodily fluids. While kissing and saliva are the most common form of transmission, it can also spread through sexual contact with an infected individual. EBV can also spread through organ transplantations and blood transfusions.
Mono Incubation Period
The incubation period is considered from the time of becoming infected until the first onset of symptoms. It is crucial to note that at the time of contamination, the individual will become contagious. Since no one will know the precise time they become infected with EBV, which makes it difficult to prevent the spread of the virus. The incubation period will vary from 4-7 weeks and the individual may be contagious, even 18 months after the symptoms have completely diminished.
Once the symptoms have subsided completely, the virus will remain in the body, but will become latent. While the contagious period is still unknown, many medical researchers have determined it to be around 18 months.
Early Signs of the “Kissing Disease”
The first signs of Mono will always vary from person to person and may include some or all of the symptoms below:
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
Diagnosis of Mono
There are several serum tests that are very effective in detecting the EBV virus at different phases of the illness.
- Viral Capsid Antigen (VCA) – will appear very early into the virus, but will disappear within 4-6 weeks
- Anti-EA IgG – This antigen will appear during the acute phase, but will be undetectable after 3-6 months
- Monospot Test – is ineffective in detecting Mono, since it will render a false negative or false positive result almost every time
- EBV Nuclear – This antigen will first appear within the first 2-4 months of the illness, but only after the onset of symptoms
There is no cure for the “Kissing Disease”, but you can actually treat the symptoms.
- OTC analgesics such as Tylenol
- Hydration – drink plenty of fluids
- Bed rest
While there is currently no vaccine to prevent the spread of Mono, you should avoid sharing beverages, eating utensils, and toothbrushes with your friends. Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of EBV, since your skin is the biggest defense against illnesses. Teach your child to recite the alphabet, while washing their hands. This is adequate time to kill germs.
Be sure to learn more about Mono symptoms in teens.