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Glandular Fever

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Glandular Fever








What is Glandular Fever?


Glandular fever is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Once a person catches this virus it remains in their body for life, although it usually does not cause further illness (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012). Most people are exposed to the virus as children, when the disease produces no noticeable or only flu-like symptoms (National Center for Infectious Diseases 2009). By adulthood, 90-95% of people have Epstein-Barr virus.


Symptoms of acute glandular fever include fever, tiredness, sore throat and swollen glands. Stomach pain and jaundice are less common, and some people may develop a red, itchy rash. It is important to note that most people will not have any symptoms, including children less than 3 years of age. Symptoms are more common in older children and young adults (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).



How Does Glandular Fever Spread?


Epstein-Barr virus spreads from person to person through contact with saliva. Young children may be infected by saliva on the hands of caregivers, or by sucking and sharing toys; however, the virus does not survive very well in the environment (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).


Incubation Period


The incubation period is 4-6 weeks (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).


Infectious Period


The infectious period is not accurately known. The virus is present in the saliva for up to 1 year after illness, and from time to time after that (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).




There is no effective antiviral medication available for glandular fever. Most people with glandular fever recover without any treatment (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012). Cohen (2005) notes that bed rest may not be prescribed and physical activity can resume when the person feels comfortable.






Cohen, J. I. (2005).Clinical Aspects of Epstein-Barr Infection. In Robertson, Erle S. Epstein-Barr Virus. Horizon Scientific Press. pp. 35–42


Epstein-Barr Virus and Infectious Mononucleosis. CDC A–Z Index. National Center for Infectious Diseases. 16. Retrieved December 6, 2009.


National Health and Medical Research Council (2012). Staying Healthy: Preventing diseases in early childhood education and care services 5th Edn. NHMRC, Canberra.


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