Glandular fever (also called infectious mononucleosis) is an infectious disease which is common in teenagers and young adults.
Glandular fever is caused by an infection with Epstein-Barr virus.
The virus is transmitted through saliva, and can be passed from person to person through:
- kissing (which is why it is sometimes known as the "kissing disease")
- coughing and sneezing, which spread the virus in airborne droplets
- sharing eating and drinking equipment like cups, glasses and eating utensils.
It takes 30 to 50 days from the time of infection for glandular fever to develop. A person with glandular fever is contagious for months after the infection so it’s important to follow good hygiene so others don't get infected.
Symptoms can come on gradually, and at first there may be just tiredness and lack of energy. A sore throat, swollen glands (particularly in the neck) and a rash may occur. Upper abdominal pain can occur from a swollen liver or spleen. Glandular fever symptoms can last weeks to months, especially fatigue and lack of energy.
There are a number of resources and services available if you need help or more information on glandular fever:
Last reviewed: May 2017