What You Don’t Know About Mono
How Do You Know You Have Mono? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Symptoms of Mononucleosis
How Long Is Someone Contagious After Mono Symptoms First Show Up?
As of now, there is no vaccine to prevent mono. But — like chicken pox, which usually doesn’t flare up again even though the varicella virus stays dormant in the body — most people do not get mono more than once, even though the EBV virus stays inactive in their bodies for the rest of their lives. (11)
Still, knowing how EBV spreads (and how mono spreads) can help you take the right steps to avoid getting the infection.
EBV is transmitted through saliva (hence the name “kissing disease”), and it can stay in the saliva of people who’ve been infected for months, though how long it stays in the saliva and how long someone with the virus is contagious can vary.
“We don’t know how much virus is necessary to transfer from person to person,” Balfour says. It’s important to know that someone can appear fine (and may not have a mono infection or any symptoms yet or at all), but can still shed the virus in their saliva.
It can take about four to seven weeks for symptoms to show up after someone’s been infected with the virus, and symptoms tend to last for another two to four weeks — and a person is contagious through all of this time. (12) Research has not yet confirmed how long after symptoms disappear that a person who’s had mono remains contagious.
“Unlike a cold sore, you don’t know when someone [with mono] is shedding and infectious,” Johannsen says.
The most effective way to prevent mono is to avoid very intimate contact, such as kissing, with someone who has mono for several months, even after the person is feeling better.
EBV is most easily spread through direct body-fluid contact, such as by exchanging saliva while kissing or blood or semen contact during sex, blood transfusions, or organ transplants. But EBV can still live in bodily fluids once they’re outside the body, too. So avoid sharing utensils, cups, or toothbrushes with someone you know who has been infected with EBV or mono, and steer clear when they sneeze or cough.
The bottom line is that you are not likely to catch mono from someone in a non-intimate setting, such as attending class with or standing in line near someone who’s been infected with EBV. And if you take precautions, you can avoid getting EBV — that is, if you don’t already have it — even from someone in your household, says Johannsen.
Video: Mono Virus Discovery | Cincinnati Children's
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