What Causes Mononucleosis?

Epstein-Barr virus

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  • The Epstein-Barr virus is the main cause for the development of mononucleosis. This virus is easily transmitted from person to person
  • While this virus is often the cause for this condition, there are certain viruses that have been observed to cause similar symptoms as mononucleosis

The Epstein-Barr virus is the main cause for the development of mononucleosis. This virus is easily transmitted from person to person through contact with various bodily fluids, which explains why it is prevalent in the population.

While this virus is often the cause for this condition, there are certain viruses that have been observed to cause similar symptoms as mononucleosis, with other sources noting that these parasites and viruses cause the condition and not just a similar syndrome. These viruses include the following:1

Cytomegalovirus. Like the Epstein-Barr virus, it can also be transmitted through bodily fluids. This virus also has the ability to stay in the body and be reactivated when the immune system of the patient weakens.2

Toxoplasma gondii. Approximately 60 million of Americans are carriers of this parasite, which is the primary cause for toxoplasmosis. This can be transmitted through the consumption of undercooked meat, exposure to infected cat feces, blood transfusion and organ transplants. The common symptoms for this condition include fever, fatigue and sore throat.3

Human immunodeficiency virus. HIV primarily attacks the person's immune system by destroying important infection-fighting components of the body. The primary mode of transmission for this virus is through sexual contact. If left untreated, HIV may lead to the development of AIDS.4

Rubella. This is a mild viral infection, but it can be extremely dangerous for pregnant women because it may lead to miscarriages or serious birth defects. If symptoms of mononucleosis are observed in a pregnant patient, it is best to seek medical assistance to ensure the survival of the unborn child.5

Adenovirus is a common virus that attacks the respiratory system. Like mononucleosis, the symptoms of an adenovirus infection include sore throat, fever and inflamed lymph nodes.6

Other Factors That May Influence Mononucleosis Risk

The higher susceptibility to this condition has also been observed to be influenced by different factors. Some of these factors include the following:

Age. Mononucleosis can affect people of all ages but is often observed in people between 15 and 24 years old. The prevalence of this condition in these ages depends entirely on the ease of transmission through contact.7 Pediatric mononucleosis can also be observed in children between ages 2 and 3.8

Immune system strength. The severity of the symptoms of mononucleosis depends largely on the strength of the patient's immune system. People with uncompromised immune systems usually recover from its symptoms in about four weeks, but people with weak immune systems are at risk of contracting serious complications.9

Need for blood transfusion and organ transplants. While there are only a few cases of mononucleosis caused by the transfusion of infected blood, the risk is still present. People who undergo organ transplants are also at risk, especially if they haven't contracted the Epstein-Barr virus prior to the surgery.10

Proximity to people infected by the virus. Close proximity to people who are affected or who have been affected with mononucleosis can also increase your risk of contracting the virus. While the virus cannot be transmitted by air, accidental exposure to the person's bodily fluids might make you susceptible to the infection.11

MORE ABOUT MONONUCLEOSIS

Introduction: Mononucleosis

What Is Mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis Symptoms

Mononucleosis Causes

Mononucleosis Treatment

Mononucleosis Prevention

Mononucleosis Diet

Mononucleosis FAQ


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