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Mono infections persist this year

By
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Though mononucleosis, a common viral disease, seems to have affected many on campus this semester, the number of ailing students is consistent with past years.

Tor Clark, physician assistant at Health Services, said the number of cases of mono on campus has remained “about the same” as before.

Clark said he “actually asked a couple other providers” if they had experienced an increase in cases, “and they didn’t think so.” He added that the number of students with mono is “maybe somewhat more in the winter, but it’s pretty steady throughout the year.”

Mono is “probably less contagious than a typical cold,” Clark said, adding that “saliva spread is the riskiest of direct contact.”

Caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, mononucleosis spreads through saliva and is sometimes called “kissing disease,” according to a National Institutes of Health Web site. Common symptoms include fever, sore throat, swollen lymph glands and, in some cases, a swollen spleen.

Clark said infected students should avoid consuming alcohol, sharing cups and kissing. They must also avoid contact sports that are likely to hurt the spleen, which tends to be very sensitive and tender during the period of infection.

As for recovery time, “there’s no specific amount that everyone needs,” Clark said, adding that few people are so severely sick that they cannot attend classes or pursue their other day-to-day activities.

Chelsea Macco ’11, who has been struggling with mono for well over a month, said that when she first got a cold she went to Health Services, only to be told that she would “get better soon.”

But the following week, she had to go to Health Services again – this time “almost in tears” because her throat hurt every time she tried to eat.

Like Macco, Matthew Balatbat ’11, who recently recovered, said the symptoms of infection were hard to deal with.

“The worst part of (getting mono) was my throat hurting and my glands being huge,” he said. “That lasted for about a week.”

The students interviewed said they were unsure as to how they contracted the disease.

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