Mononucleosis, or 'mono', is a common viral infection in college students. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the most common cause of mononucleosis. Most people will be infected with EBV at some time in their lives. Mono frequently affects adolescents and young adults, especially when residing, studying, and socializing in crowded settings, such as a university. Mono can be spread through contact with saliva, including eating or drinking after an infected person, or through kissing a contagious person. In the past, mono was called “the kissing disease”, but kissing is only one way mono is spread. It is difficult to accurately determine when or from whom a person caught mono. It generally takes 4–8 weeks for the first symptoms to appear. Once someone has mono, they are likely to remain contagious for many weeks and may continue to be contagious intermittently for decades. Infection in early childhood is often asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms, which may go unnoticed at that age.

Typical Mononucleosis Symptoms

  • Swollen lymph glands in the front, sides, or back of the neck
  • Fever (100.4 F / 38 C or greater)
  • Sore throat, usually with swollen tonsils that can be coated with white or gray-green material
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rash

Call the Student Health Center (812-855-4011) immediately or go to the ER if you experience any of these more serious symptoms:

  • Tonsil or throat swelling that causes difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Pain in either side of the upper abdomen
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eye)
  • Chest pain
  • Unusual weakness in arms or legs
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Vision problems