By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute
IM is an acute form of mononucleosis, which is a disease associated with Epstein-Barr virus and characterized by sudden fever and a benign swelling of lymph nodes. It is also known as glandular fever.[i] And is sometimes called the kissing disease, since the virus that causes mono is transmitted through saliva, but though one can contract the disease through kissing, it can also be spread through coughing or sneezing, or by sharing food utensils with someone who has the condition.[ii]
Recent research has shown that in Scotland, the disease is less frequent in summer and peaks in the winter,[iii] indicative of a protective influence of sunlight. And as we have pointed out in posts on multiple sclerosis and MS, there is a strong association between low sunlight exposure and MS. This is an important point, because the two diseases are closely linked.[iv] [v] And in Norway and Italy, the incidence of IM is highest in spring.[vi] This could indicate low vitamin D levels after winter when sunlight exposure is lessened. Whatever the cause, sunlight is an important protective factor.
[i] Dictionary.com, accessed September 17, 2015.
[ii] Mayo Clinic Diseses and Conditions. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mononucleosis/basics/definition/con-20021164 Accessed September 19, 2015.
[iii] Visser E1, Milne D, Collacott I, McLernon D, Counsell C, Vickers M. The epidemiology of infectious mononucleosis in Northern Scotland: a decreasing incidence and winter peak. BMC Infect Dis. 2014 Mar 20;14:151.
[iv] Goldacre MJ, Wotton CJ, Seagroatt V, Yeates D. Multiple sclerosis after infectious mononucleosis: record linkage study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2004 Dec;58(12):1032-5.
[v] Ramagopalan SV, Hoang U, Seagroatt V, Handel A, Ebers GC, Giovannoni G, Goldacre MJ. Geography of hospital admissions for multiple sclerosis in England and comparison with the geography of hospital admissions for infectious mononucleosis: a descriptive study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2011 Jun;82(6):682-7.
[vi] Lossius A, Riise T, Pugliatti M, Bjørnevik K, Casetta I, Drulovic J, Granieri E, Kampman MT, Landtblom AM, Lauer K, Magalhaes S, Myhr KM, Pekmezovic T, Wesnes K, Wolfson C, Holmøy T. Season of infectious mononucleosis and risk of multiple sclerosis at different latitudes; the EnvIMS Study. Mult Scler. 2014 May;2006:669-74.