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The internationally recognized virus, Epstein-Barr, a member of the herpes virus group, is the virus responsible for mononucleosis.  Most people have been infected with this virus at some point early in their lives and in 35 to 50 percent of cases, the infection develops into mono.  The most common symptoms of mono are fever, a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes (swollen glands) and fatigue with an added dose of general malaise.  After having been infected with EPV, a person develops immunity to future infections from mono for the rest of their lives. 

Should the symptoms of mono appear, call a doctor and schedule a visit.  It is important to have the disease diagnosed in order to ensure it is not something other than mono which could require more extensive treatment.  As a rule, mono can be treated very well at home with plenty of rest, lots of fluids, OTC pain medications and some TLC.  If the doctor suspects mono after having examined the person, he will probably order a blood test to confirm the diagnosis.

Two Types of Tests

There are two different types of tests available to determine the presence of mononucleosis.  The easiest and fastest to return a result is the monospot test (or a spot test).  The monospot depends upon the agglutination (big word for clumping) of red blood cells from horses by the antibodies of mononucleosis which are thought to be in the person's blood.  The other test is called the heterophil antibodies test which looks for antibodies (the proteins produced by the immune system to fight a virus) which clump to the red blood cells of sheep blood.

The Monospot Test

The Monospot test is a very quick screening test which will indicate a recent mono infection.  A small sample of blood is taken from the fingertip by a prick on the end of the finger which has been properly cleaned and the blood is then tested for the virus.  Often the results of this test are available within an hour or two and they are generally accurate.  If your results come back as a false negative, which means the blood test indicates a negative result while there are symptoms consistent with mono, then an EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) test may be done.  Monospot testing can generally detect mono antibodies between two to nine weeks after a person is infected.  It is not used to diagnose mono which began more than six months prior.

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