Winthrop University: Center for Student Wellness - Infectious Mononucleosis (The Kissing Disease)

Health Services

Infectious Mononucleosis (The Kissing Disease)

Every year college students are diagnosed with Infectious Mononucleosis. 'Mono,' an acute viral syndrome that is caused by the Epstein Barr Virus, is spread from person to person through saliva; hence the nickname "the kissing disease."

Time from exposure to illness is 30 to 50 days. The length of time the illness lasts varies. In uncomplicated cases, the length of duration is generally three to four weeks, but may last as long as two to three months.

The three most common symptoms are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes)

Other symptoms are:

  • Enlarged Tonsils
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Headache
  • Pain behind eyes
  • Rash

Persons who have contracted mono should avoid strenuous activity, contact sports and heavy lifting until instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Along with rest and an adjustment of school/work schedule, increased fluid intake may be helpful.

Students do not need to be isolated from others. In order to prevent the spread of disease, practice good hand washing techniques, cover the mouth when coughing, avoid sharing food and drinks with others, and avoid kissing. Drinking alcoholic beverages should be avoided for at least a month. Donating blood should also be avoided. Students with mono should immediately report any pain in the left upper abdomen or in the shoulder to a medical provider. Students should see their provider every one to two weeks until symptoms are resolved.

Uphold, C. & Graham, M.V. (2003). Infectious mononucleosis. Clinical guidelines in family practice (3rd ed., pp. 234-235). Gainesville, FL: Barmarrae Books.

Last Updated: 6/1/23