Glandular fever is a viral infection associated with a high fever.It’s also known as infectious mononucleosis or kissing disease (long ago it was realised that the infection was passed on through saliva – for example, by kissing).
It is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Glandular Fever is often spread through oral acts such as kissing, which is why it is sometimes called “The Kissing Disease“. However, Glandular Fever can also be spread by airborne saliva droplets.
Infectious Mononucleosis (IM) is an infectious, widespread viral disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), one type of herpes virus, to which more than 90% of adults have been exposed. Occasionally, the symptoms can reoccur at a later period. Most people are exposed to the virus as children, when the disease produces no noticeable symptoms or only flu-like symptoms. In developing countries, people are exposed to the virus in early childhood more often than in developed countries. As a result, the disease in its observable form is more common in developed countries. It is most common among adolescents and young adults.
Especially in adolescents and young adults, the disease is characterized by fever, sore throat and fatigue, along with several other possible signs and symptoms. It is primarily diagnosed by observation of symptoms, but suspicion can be confirmed by several diagnostic tests.
The syndrome was described as an infectious process by Nil Filatov in 1887 and independently by Emil Pfeiffer in 1889.
The following are mainly the symptoms of Glandular Fever:
*Sore throat/hard to swallow
*Tiredness, fatigue and malaise
*Enlarged lymph nodes
*Loss of appetite
*Tender enlargement of the glands (lymph glands or lymph nodes)
*Stomach pain and enlarged spleen
*Swelling around eyes
*Orange urine (or discolored
*High blood pressure
Glandular fever is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. This can attack only two types of cell in the body: those in the salivary glands and white blood cells known as B lymphocytes (B-cells).
The most common way of spreading the virus is through the transmission of saliva from one person to another. Coughing, sneezing, and sharing drink bottles, eating utensils and other personal items can also spread the virus. In addition, the virus can also be spread through blood transfusion and organ transplantation.
Infection begins in the salivary glands, which release large amounts of the virus into the saliva. The infection spreads to the B lymphocytes, causing them to multiply, and causing the lymph glands to swell and become painful.
Once infected, the virus remains dormant in the body’s cells for the rest of a person’s life.
The diagnosis of glandular fever or infectious mononucleosis is based on your physical symptoms, and will include a blood test and a throat swab. Your doctor will perform a blood test to determine abnormalities in the white blood cells. A throat swab will help determine if you have glandular fever.
The most commonly used diagnostic criterion is the presence of 50% lymphocytes with at least 10% atypical lymphocytes (large, irregular nuclei), while the person also has fever, pharyngitis and adenopathy. Furthermore, it should be confirmed by a serological test. The atypical lymphocytes resembled monocytes when they were first discovered, thus the moniker “mononucleosis” was coined. Diagnostic tests are used to confirm infectious mononucleosis but the disease should be suspected from symptoms prior to the results from hematology. These criteria are specific; however, they are not particularly sensitive and are more useful for research than for clinical use. Only half the patients presenting with the symptoms held by mononucleosis and a positive heterophile antibody test (monospot test) meet the entire criteria. One key procedure is to differentiate between infectious mononucleosis and mononucleosis-like symptoms.
There have been few studies on infectious mononucleosis in a primary care environment, the best of which studied 700 patients, of which 15 were found to have mononucleosis upon a heterophile antibody test. More useful in a diagnostic sense are the signs and symptoms themselves. The presence of splenomegaly, posterior cervical adenopathy, axillary adenopathy, and inguinal adenopathy are the most useful to suspect a diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis. On the other hand, the absence of cervical adenopathy and fatigue are the most useful to dismiss the idea of infectious mononucleosis as the correct diagnosis. The insensitivity of the physical examination in detecting splenomegaly means that it should not be used as evidence against infectious mononucleosis.
In the past the most common test for diagnosing infectious mononucleosis was the heterophile antibody test which involves testing heterophile antibodies by agglutination of guinea pig, sheep and horse red blood cells. As with the aforementioned criteria, this test is specific but not particularly sensitive (with a false-negative rate of as high as 25% in the first week, 5–10% in the second and 5% in the third). 90% of patients have heterophile antibodies by week 3, disappearing in under a year. The antibodies involved in the test do not interact with the Epstein-Barr virus or any of its antigens. More recently, tests that are more sensitive have been developed such as the Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and Immunoglobulin M (IgM) tests. IgG, when positive, reflects a past infection, whereas IgM reflects a current infection. When negative, these tests are more accurate in ruling out infectious mononucleosis. However, when positive, they feature similar sensitivities to the heterophile antibody test. Therefore, these tests are useful for diagnosing infectious mononucleosis in people with highly suggestive symptoms and a negative heterophile antibody test. Another test searches for the Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen, while it is not normally recognizable until several weeks into the disease, and is useful for distinguishing between a recent-onset of infectious mononucleosis and symptoms caused by a previous infection. Elevated hepatic transaminase levels is highly suggestive of infectious mononucleosis, occurring in up to 50% of patients.
A fibrin ring granuloma may be present.
Diagnosis of acute infectious mononucleosis should also take into consideration acute cytomegalovirus infection and Toxoplasma gondii infections. These diseases are clinically very similar by their signs and symptoms. Because their management is much the same it is not always helpful, or possible, to distinguish between EBV mononucleosis and cytomegalovirus infection. However, in pregnant women, differentiation of mononucleosis from toxoplasmosis is associated with significant consequences for the fetus.
Acute HIV infection can mimic signs similar to those of infectious mononucleosis and tests should be performed for pregnant women for the same reason as toxoplasmosis.
Other conditions from which to distinguish infectious mononucleosis include leukemia, tonsillitis, diphtheria, common cold and influenza
Infectious mononucleosis is generally self-limiting and only symptomatic and/or supportive treatments are used. Rest is recommended during the acute phase of the infection, but activity should be resumed once acute symptoms have resolved. Nevertheless heavy physical activity and contact sports should be avoided to mitigate the risk of splenic rupture, for at least one month following initial infection or splenomegaly has resolved, as determined by a treating physician.
MedicationsIn terms of pharmacotherapies, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may be used to reduce fever and pain. Prednisone, a corticosteroid, is commonly used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce symptoms of pharyngeal pain, odynophagia, or enlarged tonsils, although its use remains controversial due to the rather limited benefit and the potential of side effects. Intravenous corticosteroids, usually hydrocortisone or dexamethasone, are not recommended for routine use but may be useful if there is a risk of airway obstruction, severe thrombocytopenia, or hemolytic anemia. There is little evidence to support the use of aciclovir, although it may reduce initial viral shedding. However, the antiviral drug valacyclovir has recently been shown to lower or eliminate the presence of the Epstein-Barr virus in subjects afflicted with acute mononucleosis, leading to a significant decrease in the severity of symptoms. Although antivirals are not recommended for patients presenting with simple infectious mononuscleosis, they may be useful (in conjunction with steroids) in the management of patients with severe EBV manifestations, such as EBV meningitis, peripheral neuritis, hepatitis, or hematologic complications. Antibiotics are not used as they are ineffective against viral infections. The antibiotics ampicillin and later the related amoxicillin are relatively contraindicated in the case of any coinciding bacterial infections during mononucleosis because their use precipitates a non-allergic rash close to 99% of the time.
In a small percentage of cases, mononucleosis infection is complicated by co-infection with streptococcal infection in the throat and tonsils (strep throat). Penicillin or other antibiotics (with the exception of the two mentioned above) should be administered to treat the strep throat. Opioid analgesics are also relatively contraindicated due to risk of respiratory depression.
Serious complications are uncommon, occurring in less than 5% of cases:
*CNS: Meningitis, encephalitis, hemiplegia, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and transverse myelitis. EBV infection has also been proposed as a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), but this has not been confirmed.
*Hematologic: Hemolytic anemia (direct Coombs test is positive) and various cytopenias; Bleeding (caused by thrombocytopenia).[
*Upper airway obstruction (tonsillar hypertrophy) (rare)
*Fulminant disease course (immunocompromised patients) (rare)
*Splenic rupture (rare)
*Myocarditis and pericarditis (rare)
Once the acute symptoms of an initial infection disappear, they often do not return. But once infected, the patient carries the virus for the rest of his or her life. The virus typically lives dormantly in B lymphocytes. Independent infections of mononucleosis may be contracted multiple times, regardless of whether the patient is already carrying the virus dormantly. Periodically, the virus can reactivate, during which time the patient is again infectious, but usually without any symptoms of illness. Usually, a patient has few if any further symptoms or problems from the latent B lymphocyte infection. However, in susceptible hosts under the appropriate environmental stressors the virus can reactivate and cause vague physical complaints (or may be subclinical), and during this phase the virus can spread to others. Similar reactivation or chronic subclinical viral activity in susceptible hosts may trigger multiple host autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, and multiple sclerosis. Such chronic immunologic stimulation may also trigger multiple type of cancers, particularly lymphoma—strongest cancer associations with EBV are nasopharyngeal carcinomas, Burkitt’s lymphoma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. EBV’s potential to trigger such a wide range of autoimmune diseases and cancers probably relates to its primary infection of B lymphocytes (the primary antibody-producing cell of the immune system) and ability to alter both lymphocyte proliferation and lymphocyte antibody production.
A vaccine against the Epstein-Barr virus is under development. The infection is most contagious during the feverish stage, when contact with others should be avoided.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.
- Recurring Mononucleosis (everydayhealth.com)
- I’m Healthy! (prettywittyandgay.com)
- Multiple sclerosis tied to low sun, mono virus (shineonscotland.com)
- Lifecoach: Is it possible for glandular fever to come back? (telegraph.co.uk)
- Research links factors to MS levels (independent.co.uk)
- To Kiss or Not to kiss (amog.com)
- Multiple sclerosis tied to low sun, mono virus (cbc.ca)
- Study: Common virus + low sunlight exposure may increase risk of MS (eurekalert.org)
- Is muscle fatigue associated with mono? (zocdoc.com)
- Can Common Virus, Lack of Sunlight Boost MS Risk? (nlm.nih.gov)