ZocdocAnswersDoes mono recur once you have it?

Question

Does mono recur once you have it?

Had mono this year and a friend told me it stays in your system. Is this true? If you get it once does it mean you will have it again sometime later?

Answer

Infectious mononucleosis is a very common viral infection caused by the Ebstein Barr virus. This virus is one of the most common viral infections in humans, and virtually all people will have had the infection by the time the reach adult age. This doesn't mean that everyone will realize they have been infected, because in some people the infection is very mild, and just causes some minimal cold or flu symptoms. In teenagers and young adults, infection with mono tends to cause the more severe symptoms of fatigue, fever, and swollen glands. Once you have had acute infectious mononucleosis, your body will almost always fight it back in a few weeks. However, your friend is right that the virus continues to live inside some cells in your body for the rest of your life - this is called the "latent" infection. For virtually all people, the latent infection stage of mono is asymptomatic and will never cause any problems. However, in people who have an immune problem, such as people undergoing cancer treatment or people who have HIV, the latent mono infection can reactivate and cause serious symptoms. Please talk to your primary care doctor for more information!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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