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Mononucleosis (cont.)

Mononucleosis Causes

The Epstein-Barr virus causes mononucleosis in the majority 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.

  • Mononucleosis most often occurs in people between 5-25 years of age, with the highest occurrence rate between 15-25 years of age.
  • A small percentage of college students contract mononucleosis each year.
  • In developed countries, it most often occurs in those of higher socioeconomic status.
  • By adulthood, most 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.
  • EBV 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2014

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