Can You Get Mono Twice?

Otherwise known as the "kissing disease" or "mono," mononucleosis is an infection brought on by the Epstein Barr virus. It gained its fame due to how long the virus lasts in your system and how it is spread. The antibodies of EBV can be found in an estimated 95 percent of the adult population. Although most adults have been affected by EBV, not all of them have had mono.

Can You Get Mono Twice?

Yes, you can get mono twice, but that's a very rare occurrence.

Most adults only get it once, but in rare cases symptoms may appear months or years after your initial infection. Most people are never aware they have even been infected with EBV. The virus stays dormant in their system. If it does decide to become reactivated after the initial infection, you probably won't get sick but the virus will be detectable in your system – particularly in your saliva. However, if you have a weakened immune system, you have a greater chance of experiencing mono symptoms.

Sometimes, but very rarely, mono can become chronic which is referred to an active EBV infection. This is a serious condition, diagnosed by the persistent presence of mono symptoms for longer than six months after first detection.

How do You Get Mono Twice?

Now that you know the answer to "can you get mono twice" is yes but rare, it's important to know how you can get infected in the first place.

When present, EPV can be found in your body's mucus, saliva and even occasionally tears. Even so, the virus is not spread by simple contact. If you live with someone with mono, it doesn't mean you'll get it too. However, it's possible to get the virus from someone in your household if you have weak immune system. Remember, you can contract EPV from a person who is not showing any symptoms.

  • The virus grows in your throat and nose so any type of fluid that travels about these areas of the body can become infected with EBV. This includes tears, saliva and mucus. If an infected person sneezes and someone touches the expelled nasal spray, they can become infected too.
  • EBV can be transmitted between individuals during intimate contact like intense kissing, hence the nickname "kissing disease." Saliva must be exchanged for a person to spread the infection. Usually a casual, brief kiss will not spread the mono virus.
  • In the same sense, you can get the virus by using an infected individual's utensils or glass when eating. Again, the infected saliva is transmitted between you and the other person.
  • You can get an EBV infection through a blood transfusion from an infected person, but this is very rare.

Contagious and Incubation Period

  • A person can infect others with EPV throughout their lifetime if the virus becomes active but most often transmission happens within the first few months of their initial infection.
  • If you have mono and know it, you should not give blood as there is a slight chance of the virus spreading during blood transfusions.
  • The incubation period for EBV occurs during the 4 to 6 weeks of your initial infection. After this time, symptoms may occur.

Who Are More Likely to Get It Twice?

Some people have a greater chance of getting mono. They include:

  • Individuals between 15 and 25 years old
  • Medical professionals, such as nurses or interns
  • Students, especially in crowded classrooms
  • Caregivers
  • People taking immune-suppressing medications
  • The more close contact you have, especially if in a crowded environment, the greater your risk of contracting mono. Students, especially in high school or college, often get infected by the virus and show symptoms.

How do You Know If It Is Mono?

Can you get mono twice? The rare possibility is there, but how do you know if it is mono in the first place?

Symptoms of mono include fever, fatigue, sore throat, weakness and swollen lymph nodes. It is important to see a doctor, especially if you have been diagnosed before with the infection. Other illness can display the same symptoms of mono, so it is important to get a doctor's diagnose.

Diagnosis at the Doctor's Office

When you go to the doctor and if he thinks you may have mono, he will ask more detailed questions about your symptoms and how long have they been present. Your doctor will also conduct a physical exam. This is when he will look for swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, as well as examine your spleen and liver for inflammation. Your doctor will then consider your other symptoms to determine if additional tests are needed.

If your doctor determines you need further evaluation, the next step will most likely be blood tests. There are two main tests.

  • Antibody test, a monospot test, which checks for EPV antibodies in your blood. However, if you were recently infected, it may not show up so your doctor may order another type of antibody test. The drawback to this test is it takes longer to get the results.
  • White blood cell count. Your doctor will be looking for an elevated count, which usually means your body is fighting an infection. However, this test does not specifically test for mono.

How Can It Be Treated?

Whether or not can you get mono twice applies, it is important to note that there has been no treatment found for mono. There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs to combat the infection. Your treatment regime will concentrate on easing and controlling your mono symptoms, which typically diminish within two months or less.

  • Over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin) can help with your fever and aching body. Or your doctor may prescribe medication to ease your tonsil and throat swelling.
  • Home remedies that may help include drinking lots of water and staying hydrated, getting the rest you need by sleeping and not overdoing it, and eating warm soups or drinking warm beverages to ease throat pain.
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