Mono stalks College-aged people in Carbondale

By Gus Bode

The disease called one affects many

Jenna Coghill woke up one morning last week with the worst sore throat of her life.

I couldn’t swallow, I had a fever and I was achy, Coghill recalls.


For Coghill, it was the sore throat that eventually made her go to the emergency room.

Infectious mononucleosis, commonly referred to as mono has struck more immune systems than just Coghill around the area.

The virus is most common in people ages 10 to 35. According to, 90 percent of people over 35 have been infected by the virus.

Recently, the sorority Sigma Kappa was besieged by viral illnesses but only one student, Coghill, returned from the hospital with a positive blood test for mono. The sorority members may still be at risk though because mono has a 20-to-50 day long incubation period.

In many cases, a person wouldn’t know they have the illness, said Chris Labyk, coordinator for the Wellness Center. There’s no treatment or cure. Just like the chicken pox or measles, it has to run its course.

The course can be a long one. People affected by mono can be sick with symptoms of fatigue, sore throat, headache and swollen glands for 10 days to six months.

A side effect of the illness is an enlarged spleen. This makes riding in cars potentially dangerous because if the car were to even get a slight jostle, it could cause the spleen to rupture.


Coghill was told not to work out because her spleen was enlarged.

I felt like I had runners’ cramp all the time, Coghill said. I work out all the time and all last week I couldn’t, and I’m still not doing that now.

Mono has been nicknamed the kissing disease because it is transmitted from person to person through close contact. Mono can also be spread by sharing drinks, cigarettes, toothbrushes, food or utensils. College-aged people are more susceptible because they have a tendency to share things more often, Labyk said.

They say it’s the kissing disease, but I wasn’t kissing anybody, Coghill said.

Another good way to avoid mono is to wash hands frequently, Labyk said.

There is no way to find out how many cases of mono are present in an area because it’s typically not reported.

There’s no way you can capture that number. It’s usually outpatient data, said Kathy Odum, education nurse at the Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. It’s pretty common.

The only way to gauge how much it’s going around is by word of mouth, just don’t get too close.

Reporter Arin Thompson can be reached at [email protected]