Most people who have infectious mononucleosis (mono) will have it only once. Rarely, however, mononucleosis symptoms may recur months or even years later.
Most cases of mononucleosis are caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Once you're infected with EBV, you carry the virus — usually in a dormant state — for the rest of your life. Periodically, however, the virus may reactivate. When this happens, the virus can be detected in your saliva — but you're not likely to become ill. Rarely, reactivated EBV may cause illness in people who have weak immune systems, such as those who have AIDS.
Mononucleosis rarely leads to a serious condition called chronic active EBV infection, which is characterized by persistent symptoms and a viral infection that lasts longer than usual after the initial mononucleosis diagnosis.
If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of mononucleosis — such as fatigue, weakness, fever, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes — and you've had mono before, consult your doctor to determine the cause of your current symptoms. Keep in mind that many other conditions, such as hepatitis and toxoplasmosis, can mimic the symptoms of mononucleosis.
Oct. 06, 2018
See more Expert Answers
- AskMayoExpert. Epstein-Barr virus infection. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Sullivan JL. Clinical manifestations and treatment of Epstein-Barr virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 26, 2015.
- Aronson MD, et al. Infectious mononucleosis in adults and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 26, 2015.
- Infectious mononucleosis. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/herpesviruses/infectious-mononucleosis. Accessed Oct. 26, 2015.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 2, 2018.