Also known as the 'kissing disease', mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The distinct characteristic of the EBV virus, like all other viruses that fall in the herpes category, is that once it enters an individuals body it stays there for the rest of his/her life. Mono is contagious but this certainly does not mean that it stays contagious for the rest of the person's life. The contagiousness of the virus diminishes over time, and pretty soon it simply becomes dormant.
What is the Incubation Period of Mono?
The incubation period of a virus is the amount of time that passes between the person contracting the virus and the emergence of the symptoms of the disease.
The incubation period of mono is around 4-8 weeks and therefore, it becomes hard for a person to actually know that he or she has contracted mononucleosis. The duration cannot be standardized as there is no definite period. Some people display no symptoms of mono for many months after it has been contracted, but the longest recorded case of contagious mononucleosis is 18 months. This is a long period to be suffering from an infectious disease and the risk of infection for people around is undeniably high. Each person's body will react differently upon the entry of this virus and the display of the symptoms and the mono contagious duration will heavily depend on that.
What Symptoms Indicate Mono?
It is estimated that around 90% of the adult population has been exposed to mono at some point of time, so the risk of exposure is quite high, especially when an individual is in his/her adolescent years. The common symptoms of mono are as follows.
Note that it is fairly natural to mistake these symptoms for other common ailments like the flu as well.
- Constant sore throat
- Fever and fatigue
- Rapid weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Small red or purple spots on the body, as a result of hemorrhages
- Inflammation of the pharynx
- Enlarged spleen or lymph nodes
- Bursting of red blood cells (hemolysis)
- Contraction of hepatitis
Is Mono Airborne?
No, mononucleosis cannot be transmitted through air. It is known as 'kissing disease' because it spreads only through the exchange of saliva between two people. So there is absolutely no risk of a person around you contracting this disease by simply breathing the air around you. The long duration of mono contagiousness seems a little less daunting now. It is observed that the disease also spreads through using the same dishes, glasses or utensils. Anything that enables the saliva to transfer from one person to another can potentially carry this disease, so such activities must be strictly refrained from.
Is Mono More Dangerous in Adults?
There is a fairly mixed response to this query. Mononucleosis is contagious to adults, but the most susceptible people to this condition are adolescents and teenagers. The reason for this again stems from the act of kissing and exchanging saliva. Adults tend to be a bit more responsible about these kinds of things, whereas teenagers are undoubtedly more reckless. This has resulted in the growing numbers of teenagers getting affected by this disease.
Can You Contract Mono a Second Time?
The answer to this is also a resounding yes. Though it is very rare, mononucleosis can be contracted a second time. As mentioned before, the virus remains in the body for the person's lifetime and sometimes the symptoms can resurface and infect the person again. It has been observed that recurring cases of mononucleosis originate from some autoimmune disorders in the body, or sometimes even due to some kind of cancer. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing mononucleosis on a recurring basis, you need to carry out a variety of tests to deduce the reason for it.
This was a brief look into the contagiousness of mononucleosis. With meticulous care and attention, the symptoms can vanish once they appear, but if these occur again and again, something is seriously wrong and a doctor needs to be consulted urgently. So, is mono contagious? Yes. How long is it contagious for? That would vary from person to 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.