It is difficult to determine the length of the contagious period of mono. This is because, it varies from person to person. More on this has been detailed in the article below.
Mono, more appropriately known as infectious mononucleosis, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The infection is popularly known as the ‘kissing disease’ because it commonly spreads from one person to another through saliva. Other modes of transmission include cough, sneeze, contaminated items such as drinking glass or other food utensils.
What is the Incubation Period of Mono?
The incubation period (the period between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms of the disease) of mono is about 4 to 8 weeks. So most people remain unaware even if they have been infected by the EBV, until the symptoms start revealing themselves.
Contagiousness of Mono
Mono is not as contagious as infections such as common cold. However, there is no solid or specific period when the mononucleosis is contagious. In some cases, people who have suffered from this infection, were not always contagious.
The virus tends to become less contagious over time. Some people may be contagious right from the time they were infected and may have the risk of spreading it even long after the symptoms were gone. Doctors have found that for some people the contagious period continued for as long as 18 months even after the withdrawal of the symptoms. However, chances are closer to nil that, after this period, the affected person will spread the infection further. It is to be known that even after the withdrawal of the symptoms, the virus stays in the body for the remaining of the person’s life. It may get reactivated but it is most unlikely to cause any symptoms, but likely to spread to others.
The symptoms that show up during an early stage of mononucleosis include:
- General lack of energy
- Poor appetite
If the infection progresses further, the symptoms which may show up include:
- Sore throat (severe)
- Swollen lymph glands in the neck area
- Swollen tonsils
- Skin rash
- Night sweats
- Swelling of the spleen
In severe cases, the spleen may burst, and this requires immediate medical assistance. When kids contract the infection, it often goes unnoticed because it causes less and mild symptoms. In adolescents or young adults, however, all possible symptoms tend to surface.
Treatment and Prevention
Mononucleosis, usually, is not a serious disease. Most adults who have contracted the infection, usually do not get it again because of the antibodies that get build up in the body in response to the invasion of the Epstein-Barr virus.
There are no specific treatment methods to deal with mono. Self-care measures such as taking plenty of rest, and drinking adequate fluid, in most cases, are good enough to manage the symptoms. However, if there is a risk of secondary bacterial infections, then the patient may be prescribed with antibiotics.
Some people may be bothered by their swollen throats or tonsils. To ease such symptoms, corticosteroids may be administered. Gargling with lukewarm salt water may help with easing sore throat, and medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may bring down fever and relieve headaches.
During the illness, it is advised against lifting heavy objects or get indulged in contact sports. All such activities may cause the spleen to burst, if it is already swollen because of the infection.
In a situation wherein, there is no definite answer about the mononucleosis contagious period, the best bet is to prevent the illness from spreading further. Avoid sharing food utensils, drinking straw, and most importantly avoid kissing (especially open mouth kissing). As the virus which causes the illness is readily transmitted through the saliva, it is wise not to come in contact with anything that has been contaminated by the mouth of the affected person.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.