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July 14, 2021 03:23pm
By Jill Murphy, Associate Editor
Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis are normally mild, so the condition often goes unrecognized.
Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis (mono) are normally mild, so the condition often goes unrecognized.
Mono is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and has an incubation period of about 4 to 6 weeks. Signs and symptoms can include fever, sore throat, enlarged nymph nodes, fatigue, and swollen spleen.
Children who develop mono sometimes do not experience any symptoms at all. Other kids see flu-like symptoms, but with plenty of rest and fluids, their illness typically goes away on its own.
Young adults may develop similar flu-like symptoms that resolve on their own within days or weeks, though others can experience related fatigue and weakness for several months.
Mono is extremely contagious, so retail clinicians and parents who suspect that their children may have contracted the virus should take extra precaution to rule it out and ensure that other children are protected. To minimize the risk of infection, parents should instruct their children to exercise proper hygiene such as hand washing and not share drinks or straws.
Beyond children, EBV can cause more serious illness in patient populations with impaired immune systems, including those with HIV/AIDS and patients taking medications to suppress their immunity after an organ transplant. Some complications for mono patients may be more serious than the disease itself.
The most serious mono complication is related to the enlargement of the spleen. In very serious cases, the patient’s enlarged spleen can rupture and require surgery.
Another serious mono complication that retail clinicians and parents should watch for is Reye’s syndrome, which can develop after giving aspirin to children who have a viral illness and may lead to liver failure or death.
Retail clinicians should make parents aware that a mono screening can be done in one clinic visit at a low cost. With respect to a mono diagnosis, clinicians should err on the side of caution.
A mono diagnosis also serves as a good opportunity for retail clinicians to remind patients that antibiotics arenot effectiveagainst viral infections.