Primary EBV infection is usually subclinical in childhood. However in adolescents and adults, there is a 50% chance that the syndrome of infectious mononucleosis (IM) will develop.
IM is usually a self-limited disease which consists of fever, lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly. In some patients jaundice may be seen which is due to hepatitis. Atypical lymphocytes are present in the blood.
Complications occur rarely but may be serious e.g. splenic rupture, meningoencephalitis, and pharyngeal obstruction.
In some patients, chronic IM may occur where eventually the patient dies of lymphoproliferative disease or lymphoma.
Diagnosis of IM is usually made by the heterophil antibody test and/or detection of EBV IgM.
There is no specific treatment.