Infectious Mononucleosis Essay, Research Paper
CauseInfectious mononucleosis is caused by the Ebstein-Barr virus, which is a member of the herpes family. This family also includes the viruses that cause cold sores, chicken pox, genital herpes, and birth defects. The Ebstein-Barr virus has a lengthy incubation period and symptoms usually take about 4-10 weeks to develop.Once a person is infected with a herpes virus, it never really goes away. The viruses are able to lie dormant in our bodies and become active at any time. The only way mono can be spread is through direct contact with infected saliva. That explains why it is known as the “kissing disease”. Drinking from each- others glasses, sharing silverware, and coughing can also spread the virus. In rare cases it can be transmitted from person to person through blood transfusions.A person can only be infected when someone who has the virus passes it to someone who has never been exposed. But less than 5% of people w/ mono can recall being in contact w/ someone who had mono. That is b/c some people are strictly carriers. They carry the virus and pass it along to someone else without ever getting any symptoms themselves.Population AffectedAnyone can get mono. About 70-80% of all cases occur in people btw/ the ages of 15-30. Mono is most common among high school and college students who immune systems are usually run down from stress and fatigue. Although mono peaks earlier in females, it occurs more often in males. Females are usually 15-16 when they contract mono and males tend to be around 18-23. It is estimated that by the age of 40, 95% of the population has already had mono. That might be hard to believe, but most people who had mono didn’t even know it. They had such mild cases that they thought it was just a cold or flu and their bodies were able to produce antibodies against ever having mono again.SymptomsIf symptoms do appear, they don’t develop immediately. The incubation period lasts anywhere from 2 to 7 weeks. The 1st symptoms are commonly mistaken for a cold. They are headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, and chills. The symptoms become more severe as the body’s lymphatic system is affected. These include extreme exhaustion, sore throat, fever and swollen glands. Sore muscles, weakness, nausea, and difficulty breathing have also been reported. The typical mono symptoms usually last 1-3 weeks, but they can go away in a few days or last several months. Mono causes enlarged spleens in 50% of patients and enlarged livers in 20%. Tonsillitis, difficulty swallowing, coughing and vomiting are other symptoms that can occur.About 1/2 of all mono patients experience bumps on theie tongues, 1/3 have puffy, painful eyes, and 1/10 develop a rash over their bodies. Although most symptoms don’t last long, fatigue can last for many months.