Infectious mononucleosis (or glandular fever) is usually a self-limiting disease caused generally by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a member of the herpes virus family. The virus replicates mainly in B – lymphocytes and in some instances in the epithelial cells of the pharynx and parotid duct (1).
The virus is seen throughout the world and most people are infected by EBV at some point in their lives (2)
The virus is excreted for some months in nasopharyngeal secretions (primarily by saliva) which are responsible for person-to-person transmission. (1)
The possibility of developing IM after acute EBV infection appears to increase with age
It is not as contagious as common cold. Although a self-limiting disease, the virus remains in the body for life (3).
A GP with 10,000 patients can expect around seven new cases of infectious mononucleosis per year (although this number will increase in practices with a high number of young people) (6).
Last reviewed 01/2021