Is mono contagious?


Quick Answer

Mononucleosis, or mono, is contagious even when no symptoms are apparent, according to KidsHealth. Mono has an incubation period of four to seven weeks, so people with the illness may remain asymptomatic for extended periods. The virus remains in the body long after symptoms subside, and the person could be contagious for up to 18 more months.

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Full Answer

Mono is transmitted through saliva, which has earned the disease the moniker "the kissing disease," according to the Mayo Clinic. In addition to transmission through kissing, the virus spreads through coughs, sneezes or sharing utensils. However, the virus does not spread particularly easily; the common cold is more contagious.

Symptoms of mono include extreme fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headache, sore throat and enlarged spleen, according the KidsHealth. The virus must run its course naturally for the body to recover. Symptoms typically last two to four weeks, although full recovery can take several months. During this recovery period, fatigue is quite common. Rest is essential both while active symptoms are apparent and during the prolonged recovery period.

After recovery, the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mono, remains in the body, according to KidsHealth. The disease can flare up without warning throughout life, and in some circumstances a person becomes contagious during these flare ups even without new symptoms arising.

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