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Infectious Diseases

Test for infectioness of mono

05/23/2006

Question:

My daughter`s boyfriend got mono about ten weeks ago. We have been told that he could be asymptonmanic but still be a carrier. Is there any clinical test that can be performed to determine if he is a carrier?

We have been told that mono could spread by saliva, so kissing could be off-limits for a long period of time. We really are *not* sure if our information is correct or not, and would like to get some advice to pass on on to our daughter.

Also I have read that individuals with asymptomanic mono can shed EBV. Is EBV what causes mono? Is there any test to see if our daughter is already immune to EBV or not? I ask this final question because I get the impression that some individuals in the population are immunue. I am not sure if my understanding here is correct or not.

Answer:

Most individuals exposed to people with infectious mononucleosis have previously been infected with EBV and are not at risk for infectious mononucleosis. In addition, transmission of EBV requires intimate contact with the saliva (found in the mouth) of an infected person. Transmission of this virus through the air or blood does not normally occur. The incubation period, or the time from infection to appearance of symptoms, ranges from 4 to 6 weeks. Persons with infectious mononucleosis may be able to spread the infection to others for a period of weeks. However, no special precautions or isolation procedures are recommended, since the virus is also found frequently in the saliva of healthy people. In fact, many healthy people can carry and spread the virus intermittently for life. These people are usually the primary reservoir for person-to-person transmission. For this reason, transmission of the virus is almost impossible to prevent. 

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Response by:

Pamposh   Kaul, MD Pamposh Kaul, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati