Scientifically, EBV is classified as a member of the herpesvirus family.

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An enlarged liver and abnormalities in liver function tests (blood tests) may be detected (see Complications, below).

Some of patients have a splotchy red rash over the body, which has a similar appearance to the rash of measles.

A person with mono can also pass the disease by coughing or sneezing, causing small droplets of infected saliva and/or mucus to be suspended in the air which can be inhaled by others.

Sharing food or beverages from the same container or utensil can also transfer the virus from one person to another since contact with infected saliva may result.

While there are other illnesses falling under the broad classification of mononucleosis that can cause similar symptoms (cytomegalovirus [CMV] infection is one example) and an increase in blood lymphocytes, the mononucleosis caused by the EBV is by far the most common. As previously discussed, the majority of people have become infected with the virus by the time that they reach adulthood, and the majority of these infections produce no symptoms and are not recognized as mono.

Mono is most often diagnosed in adolescents and young adults, with a peak incidence at 15-17 years of age. Generally, the illness is less severe in young children and may mimic the symptoms of other common childhood illnesses, which may explain why it is less commonly diagnosed or recognized in this younger age group. Saliva is the primary method of transmitting mono, which leads to the infection of B lymphocytes in the mouth and throat.Likewise, probably because of immunity from prior infection, adults typically do not develop the illness.Most cases of infectious mononucleosis occur in the 15-24 age group.Mono is confirmed by blood tests that may also include tests to exclude other possible causes of the symptoms, such as tests to rule out strep throat.Early in the course of the mono, blood tests may show an increase in one type of white blood cell (lymphocyte).The tonsils have a whitish coating in at least one-third of the cases.