Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Can I be tested to see if I don't have mono any more?"
I was diagnosed with mono about six weeks ago, but I'm not showing symptoms any more, and I'd really like to return to the activities mono has prevented me from engaging in (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Could the test that they used to determine I had mono originally be used to determine whether or not I'm still contagious? I understand mono is basically a lifetime resident of my body now, but I guess what I'm wondering is if the test would determine whether it's 'active' or not. I also read that it's most contagious in the 30 days prior to showing symptoms - is it an exercise in futility to try to completely prevent its spread?
First, I'm glad you are feeling better. Mononucleosis can make you feel pretty crummy. Unfortunately, there is not test to determine whether or not you are contagious, which is why I recommend discussing this with your primary care physician. That's way we choose a time period when you are likely contagious and ask that you use precautions during that period. This time period varies, but I generally tell patients that they should try and avoid contact that can spread the virus for 6 weeks after they have recovered from the illness. This 6 weeks does not guarantee that you won't pass the virus on to someone else because (as you pointed out), the virus lives in your white blood cells forever. 6 weeks is fairly close to the 30 days you heard, I just like to be safer. A more important point that I would like to make is that you still continue to have a small risk of spleen rupture during the months after an infection. I usually tell my patients that they cannot participate in contact sports 6 months after the illness. If they have an enlarged spleen during the illness, it might be a good idea to get repeat imaging to make sure the size has reduced. The best physician for you to see about this problem is your primary care physician.
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