Most cases of mono care caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, named after the two British researchers who first identified it in 1964, although the disease itself had been recognized many years earlier. A common member of the herpes family of viruses, the Epstein-Barr virus is spread primarily through the exchange of saliva, which is why mono is sometimes known as "the kissing disease." Coughing or other contact with infected saliva can also pass the virus from one person to another.
The mono virus can stay active in a person weeks or months after all overt symptoms are gone, so close contact with someone who shows no sign of the disease can still put others at risk. On the other hand, not everyone who lives in close proximity to a person infected with mono comes down with the illness. Scientists believe that a healthy immune system may make it possible to fight off the infection successfully.
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