Glandular Fever

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Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

What is Glandular Fever?

Glandular fever is also known as “infection mononucleosis”, is a viral infection. Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is the virus that causes the infection.

It commonly affects individuals aging between 10 years old to 25 years of age.  These aged groups are more vulnerable to getting this infection.

Glandular fever Virus

The virus that causes the infection called glandular fever is Epstein – Barr virus (EBV).  It is one of the types of herpes virus. Once the infant is born, the protection of maternal antibody disappears, thus starting from birth, one is already susceptible of contracting the virus.

It is primarily a disease of the young, though it usually strikes children between 3-5years of age as well as young adults between 15-25 years of age. Thus the greatest incidence of contracting the virus occurs among medical students, college students as well as nurses who are exposed to viruses especially in their line of work.

Glandular fever Symptoms

The onset of symptoms of glandular fever follows an incubation period (time of virus contact until manifestations and symptoms appears) of at least 2-6 weeks.

For young adults and adolescents, the condition is manifested by a fever and chills with a temperature of 39OC or even higher, sore throat, fatigue and malaise accompanied by other signs and symptoms such as , flu-like symptoms, headaches and myalgias (muscle pain), swollen lymph nodes in the neck,  and loss of appetite that can lead to weight loss.

In most cases, the affected individuals may develop a maculopapular rash that somewhat the same rash as with rubella infection.

Rarely, the liver may be affected that can lead to hepatic-like syndrome.

Glandular fever in Children

Children can also be infected with the virus through close contact and not just through kissing. Since it can also transfer the virus via airborne droplets thus sneezing and coughing affects the children.

The immune system of children is not as strong as that of an adult making them more susceptible of contracting the virus.

Glandular fever in Adults

According to a report from the Center of Disease Control and prevention (CDC), that about 90% of adults between the ages of 35-45 years old has been infected by the virus.

The common cause of transmission of the virus among adults is through kissing. Though, cough, sneeze and sharing drinks/glass drinks and sharing utensils from an infected individual.

Is glandular fever Contagious?

Yes, Glandular fever is contagious. The mode of transmission for glandular fever by the Epstein-Barr virus is through the saliva during close contact such as kissing. That is why glandular fever is also known as “kissing disease”. Infected first are the epithelial cells of the nasophraynx, oropharynx and salivary glands before it spreads to the lymphoid tissues through the B lymphocytes. Although kissing is one of the ways to transfer the infection, an individual can also contract the virus through airborne droplets.

Glandular fever Treatment

There is no specific intervention or treatment that can either alleviates or curtails the disease process because infectious mononucleosis must run the course of its disease process.

Bed rest is advised to infected individuals until the temperature returns to normal. Likewise, NSAIDs are used to treat fever, sore throat, headache, and myalgia. Also, sponge bath and increase fluid intake is useful to treat fever.  To relieve sore throat, warm saline throat irrigation is recommended.

An aspirin should be avoided as this can lead to a condition called Reye’s Syndrome. Since myalgia is present, contact sports should therefore be avoided to reduce the risk of splenic rupture. Although after the disease has ended, physical exercise may gradually resume usually at least 8 weeks.

Pharmacological treatment includes corticosteroid given as a 5day course to reduce the swelling and decrease the length and severity of the disease process.

Drinking alcoholic beverages should also be avoided for several weeks.

The recovery of the disease generally occurs 2-4 weeks although the muscle pain, fatigue and extreme tiredness can continue for about a month.

References:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/ebv.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infectious_mononucleosis

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/glandularfever.htm

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