Mono is a very common infection and pretty much anyone is a risk of getting it. If you are above the age of 30, there is a good chance that your body already has antibodies against the mononucleosis virus.

More than 95% of adults between the ages of 35 and 40 have been previously exposed to the virus, and have created antibodies to it.

The older you are, the less chance you have of getting mono - 70 year olds have less than a 1% chance of developing the infection.

Teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 25 are at the greatest risk, but children can also get mild forms of mono.

You are especially at risk if you:

  • Live in a dormitory or military barracks
  • Share food, drinks, and utensils with others
  • Frequently kiss others
  • Have close contact with an infected person

Rates of mono

In the early 1970's the rate of acute infectious mononucleosis in the United States was 45 cases in every 100,000 people, with the highest number of cases falling within the age range of 15-24 years.

However, it has been documented that socioeconomic status has an effect on these figures. It seems that the usual cause of mononucleosis, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) tends to hit at a younger age in the lower socioeconomic groups.

Since EBV contracted before adolescence often does not result in acute infectious mononucleosis, mono in this population occurs less often than in the more privileged sector.

Not Very Contagious

While EBV doesn't come as an epidemic, and isn't very contagious, about 90% of the U.S. population has been infected with the virus by the time they are 25. The roommates of students with primary EBV infection show EBV in their blood at the same rate as the rest of the college students proving that while just about everyone has EBV, it's not that contagious.

Reducing Your Risk

It's possible to have the mono-causing EPV virus and have no symptoms. In fact, it's often found in the saliva of healthy people according to the NCID. The institute says that transmission is almost impossible to prevent.

Discovery Health says there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk.

· Wash your hands frequently

· Don't share cups, bowls, glasses, utensils or toothbrushes

· Disinfect shared surfaces

· Frequently sterilize toys especially ones like teething rings

Mono around the world

Worldwide, the populations of developed nations contract EBV just as often and with the same symptoms as those in the U.S. However, in third world countries, the virus tends to be acquired in childhood which lowers the incidence of acute infectious mononucleosis.

In Africa, contraction of the Epstein-Barr virus is more often associated with Burkitt lymphoma, which comes with the co-infection known as Plasmodium falciparum.

Adult men in southern China, North American Inuit Indians, and North African whites who contract EBV are susceptible to nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Racial Equality

As far as race goes, studies done during the 1970's found that mono hit whites 30 times more often than African Americans.

Later on, the correlation between lowered socioeconomic status and earlier EBV infection to the associated lowering of the rates of acute infectious mononucleosis was found to apply to African Americans, proving that money, and not race is a factor in contracting mono.

While both men and women get mononucleosis at the same rate, it seems that women contract the infection two years earlier than their male counterparts.

Most people in the world population get EBV during infancy or early childhood and therefore the virus remains in the latent state throughout their lives.

In the developed world, infection with EBV comes on later, with the result that 50% of those who get EBV in adolescence develop acute infectious mononucleosis. Though less common, cases of mononucleosis have been documented in the middle-aged and elderly population.

Incubation Period

The incubation period for acute infectious mononucleosis in adolescents is from 30-50 days, but is abbreviated in small children.

Over 90% of mono patients manifest with fever, which tends to peak in the afternoon. The fever doesn't often go above 38-39 degrees C., though it can reach as high as 40 degrees C. The fever lasts from between 10-14 days.


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