Synonyms: Mono, The kissing disease, Infectious mono

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Internal medicine, Pediatrics

Clinical Definition

Mononucleosis is an acute infectious disease that can cause lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly and pharyngitis. The most common causative agent is the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), which is a gamma-type herpes virus. Once infected with EBV, the virus remains dormant in the body and may reactivate. It is often transmitted through contact with oral secretions from an infected individual. 

In Our Own Words

Mononucleosis is a very common viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms. In most cases, it is caused by the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). Mono is very contagious and is often spread from person to person through contact with infected saliva, hence the old nickname, “the kissing disease.”

Mononucleosis occurs in every age group, but is especially common in young people during their teenage years. Both the disease course and the time needed for recovery varies from person to person. Once an individual is infected with the virus, it stays in the body, although it does not continue to cause illness. A diagnosis is usually made based on symptoms and confirmed through blood tests and a mono spot test. 

Relevant Conditions
  • Splenomegaly
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Burkitt’s lymphoma
Common Types
  • Chronic, active EBV
  • Dormant EBV
Side Effects
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Sore throat with involvement of the tonsils
  • Swollen lymph nodes, especially along the neck
Share this article
  • The University of Chicago. Infectious Mononucleosis. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. “Infectious Mononucleosis, or The Kissing Disease.” Accessed Sept. 2013
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epstein Barr Virus and Infectious Mononucleosis. Accessed Aug. 2013.
Keep Reading

Investigate your bodys signs and signals.
Try Symptom Checker