The Epstein-Barr virus causes mononucleosis in more than 90% of cases. This
ubiquitous, highly contagious organism is a member of the Herpesviridae family
of viruses (other viruses in this family include herpes simplex,
varicella-zoster, cytomegalovirus, and human herpes virus 6 & 7).
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can sometimes also cause an illness with the symptoms of
- Mononucleosis most often occurs in people between 5-25 years of age, with
the highest occurrence rate between 15-25 years of age.
- Between 1%-3% of
college students contract mononucleosis each year.
- In developed countries, it
most often occurs in those of higher socioeconomic status.
- By adulthood,
90%-95% of people have already been infected with EBV.
- Not all individuals
exposed to EBV, however, develop the symptoms of mononucleosis.
- Once infected,
a person develops lifelong immunity to future infections from the disease.
has been associated with the development of certain cancers, such as
nasopharyngeal carcinoma and Burkitt's lymphoma.
- EBV is transmitted through
exposure to body fluids containing the virus.
- It is most often transmitted via
saliva (hence the name "kissing disease").
- It can also be spread through blood
and genital secretions.
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