Mononucleosis (Mono)

Overview of Infectious Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis (Mono) is a viral illness spread by saliva. It is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Mono is most common in adolescents and young adults, but can occur in younger children but usually with milder symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands (lymph nodes)
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Enlarged spleen

May be asymptomatic. Incubation period is 4-6 weeks. Symptoms usually ease after 2-3 weeks. Usually 2-3 months before completely well. Diagnosed by a blood test. Rare complications may include splenic rupture or hepatitis.


There is no specific treatment available. Antibiotics don't help. Increased rest and adequate fluid intake is important. Symptomatic use of over the counter analgesics and salt water gargles may ease symptoms. Vigorous physical activity and contact sports should be avoided to prevent trauma to the spleen. If severe neck lymph node swelling occurs, a short course of oral prednisone can be helpful.


Mono is spread through saliva and is often called "the kissing disease". Although it is not highly contagious by casual contact, avoid sharing food, dishes, glasses, or utensils. Regular hand washing should also be practiced. The virus has been shown to be present in saliva for up to one year. Most cases of infectious mono are without symptoms, with resultant permanent immunity.

How We Can Help

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.