Glandular fever - including symptoms, treatment and prevention
Glandular fever is an infection caused by the Epstein Barr virus (EBV). It is also called Infectious Mononucleosis and sometimes the ‘kissing disease’. Once a person catches Epstein Barr virus, it is believed that the virus remains in his or her body for life, though it usually does not cause further illness. By adulthood, 90 to 95% of people have been infected with EBV.
How glandular fever is spread
Glandular fever is spread from person-to-person through contact with saliva. Young children may be infected by saliva on the hands of care givers or by sucking and sharing toys, but the virus does not survive very well in the environment. Kissing results in spread among young adults.
Signs and symptoms of glandular fever
Symptoms of glandular fever include:
abdominal pain and jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes) occur less frequently.
Symptoms most often occurs in older children and young adults. When the infection occurs in young children, symptoms are mild or absent. Up to 50% of people infected have no symptoms of infection at all.
The illness can last between 1 and several weeks and very rarely a chronic form develops. Illness can be more severe in those who have lowered immunity and in some ethnic groups serious complications may occur many years after the initial infection.
Diagnosis of glandular fever
Diagnosis is made by a blood test.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
4 to 6 weeks.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
Not accurately known. The virus is shed in the saliva for up to a year after illness and every so often after that.
Treatment for glandular fever
Seek medical advice if difficulty with swallowing or abdominal pain occurs.
Medication for control of fever may be required. Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 years of age unless specifically recommended by a doctor.
There is no effective antiviral drug available.
Contact sports and heavy lifting should be avoided for the first month after illness because of risk of damage to the spleen, which often is enlarged during acute infection.
Most patients with glandular fever recover uneventfully.
Prevention of glandular fever
Exclusion from childcare, preschool, school and work is not necessary.
There is no vaccine available to prevent Epstein Barr virus infection.
Use of the information and data contained within this site or these pages is at your sole risk.
If you rely on the information on this site you are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency or completeness.
This site includes links to other websites operated by community, business and government.
These linked websites will have their own terms and conditions of use and you should familiarise yourself with these.
All linked websites are linked 'as is' and the Government of South Australia:
does not sponsor, endorse or necessarily approve of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations regarding the quality, accuracy, merchantability or fitness for purpose of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations that material on other websites to which this site is linked does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any person anywhere in the world; and
does not authorise the infringement of any intellectual property rights contained in material in other websites by linking this site to those other websites.
If you use automatic language translation services in connection with this site you do so at your own risk.
The information and data on this site is subject to change without notice. The Government of South Australia may revise this disclaimer at any time by updating this posting.
The Government of South Australia, its agents, instrumentalities, officers and employees:
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information and data contained on this site
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy or usefulness of any translation of the information on this site or any linked website into another language
make no representations as to the availability of the site and the availability of websites linked from or to the site
accept no liability however arising for any loss resulting from the use of the site and any information and data or reliance placed on it (including translated information and data)
make no representations, either expressed or implied, as to the suitability of the said information and data for any particular purpose
accepts no liability for any interference with or damage to a user's computer, software or data occurring in connection with or relating to this Site or its use or any website linked to this site
do not represent or warrant that applications or payments initiated through this site will in fact be received or made to the intended recipient. Users are advised to confirm the application or payment by other means.