ResearchSpeak & CrowdSpeak; Why is IM referred to as the kissing disease?

Could the pattern of IM explain the age of onset of MS? #ResearchSpeak #MSResearch #CrowdSpeak #CrowdacureMS

“I assume you have worked out by now that EBV is transmitted by saliva. In people who don’t get exposed to EBV in childhood tend to get infectious mononucleosis (IM) in adolescence or early adulthood when they start ‘kissing’ and/or exchanging saliva with other people. This is why IM is referred to as the ‘Kissing Disease’. It is interesting that in girls the peak age of onset is early adolescence (13-14 years of age). In males it is 3-4 years later (16-18 years of age). The 3-4 year age gap in term of IM onset has been explained by the observation that girls mature sexually and socially earlier than boys (in my school the older boys always tended to go out with younger girls and the older girls with boys who had already left school). What is also interesting that when it comes to age of onset of MS woman have a peak age of onset of disease 3 years earlier than men (see graph). Could this lag be the due to the average lag in IM peak incidence, or simply early EBV infection?”

“It doesn’t matter how much you look at the data you can’t get away from the fact that IM is a very important risk factor for the development of MS. The important question we need to address is that if we prevent IM, with an EBV vaccine, or treat to reduce IM’s severity with an antiviral could we reduce the risk of people who get IM getting MS and other autoimmune diseases in the future? This is why The Charcot Project is so important. Developing effective drugs to suppress EBV infection could also open-up new opportunities to try and prevent MS, or at least treat IM. So if you are interested in helping us and engaging with our EBV research programme please consider donating money to our current crowdfunding project. I also want to thank the readers of this blog who have so generously donated money to our project already; it is much appreciated. The success so far has already exceeded our expectations!”

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CoI: Team G will be recipients of a grant from Crowdacure to perform this research

25 thoughts on “ResearchSpeak & CrowdSpeak; Why is IM referred to as the kissing disease?”

  1. My friends niece recently got IM. She hasn't been kissing but shared lollipops with school friends. I didn't used share lollipops at school but I did share the odd can of drink with friends.

  2. This is interesting. However, what does this mean to people who have never had Glandular Fever, but went onto develop MS?

    1. Re: "However, what does this mean to people who have never had Glandular Fever, but went onto develop MS?"No everyone who has MS has had IM, but virtually everyone who has MS has EBV. Although I am focusing on IM in this post to highlight different age of onsets, it would be interesting to find out if men and women with MS who did not have IM have the same age of onset. This would hint at age of onset being linked to EBV infection. I will ask the Danish and Swedish registers to look at this question.

    2. I met a lady last year she said she had glandular fever years ago. She does not have MS. She said her sister has MS but her sister didn't get glandular fever.

    3. Many who smoke don't get lung cancer either. Just because her sister didn't get glandular fever, it's almost certain that she has been infected with EBV. I'm EBV positive but didn't have gladular fever so probably got infected as a child as a sub-clinical infection.

  3. Fascinating. Suddenly it all begins to make sense. I'm sure my MS began when I was about 18 in 1972 but little did I know it was MS. How many other MSers sre in the same boat?

  4. I am originally from India and I never even heard of IM while lived there. I have had measles, mumps, chicken pox, but no mono. I moved to the US when I was 18 and at the age of 33 had my first MS relapse. Does this mean that I got infected with ebv sometime in my adult life?

    1. Possibly infected when you were much younger, or later without your blood it is impossible to guess

    2. Thank you for answering my question. Is there a blood test for it? Maybe I can ask my neuro to get it done. I am curious to know…

    3. Yes there is a blood test and most of us have the virus, I once worked in lab where they did EBV work and one person was EBV negative and was banned fro certain labs and…they were bled all the time for experiments

  5. I had IM at age 16. I was a very sweet and innocent 16 who had never been kissed, and I didn't share drinks with friends either. My age at diagnosis – mid-50's, but actual onset appears to have been around 6 or 7 years earlier (no relapses to trigger tests which would have resulted in an earlier diagnosis)

    1. It is not only transmitted via kissing; anything that is contaminated with saliva will do. EBV can also be transmitted via blood transfusion, solid organ transplantation and sexually. The latter routes of infection are uncommon.

  6. According to the NHS glandular fever can be spread through for example •kissing – glandular fever is sometimes referred to as the "kissing disease" •sharing food and drinks •sharing toothbrushes •exposure to coughs and sneezes Small children may be infected by chewing toys that have been contaminated with the virus." to coughs and sneezes…. people are at risk all the time. Also spoons and forks that have not been washed properly (cafe's and canteens before dishwashers were used).

    1. The same NHS website page statesMany people are first exposed to EBV during childhood, when the infection causes few symptoms and often goes unrecognised before it eventually passes. Young adults may be most at risk of glandular fever because they might not have been exposed to the virus when they were younger, and the infection tends to produce more severe symptoms when you're older.EBV carriersNot everyone who can pass on EBV will have symptoms themselves. These are known as asymptomatic carriers.Some people can have the virus in their saliva for a few months after recovering from glandular fever, and may continue to have the virus in their saliva on and off for years.This is because the virus remains inactive in the body for the rest of your life after you have been exposed to it. For most people, the inactive virus won't cause any symptoms. However, there is a chance of the virus periodically becoming reactivated, which may mean it re-enters the saliva. This reactivation may be without any symptoms, or it may cause symptoms to recur for a short time.

  7. Did you see on your graph that Females n=520 / Males n=292. Is it a sampling bias of the study or is it reflecting a reality of IM? Is only the onset correlated with MS or also the sex ratio?

    1. RE: "Did you see on your graph that Females n=520 / Males n=292. Is it a sampling bias of the study or is it reflecting a reality of IM?"The graph is AOO of pwMS. There are more females than males as females are more likely to get MS than males. This simply reflects the sex ration of MS. Not sure if woman are more susceptible to IM overall; I will find-out.

  8. For me it all makes perfect sense, after the genetic factors is that the most really amounts a light toward the real cause trigger of MS, including a relationship with Vitamin D, the Genes and EBV with respect to lytic phase of the virus can exist. It makes sense to explain the cases of MS juvenile. I had glandular fever at 24 years (my mother does not remember if I had during childhood, not me, but I had chicken pox and mumps as well), then had a relapse at 28, very strong relapsed but the first general practitioner who helped me thought It was tonsillitis. As antibiotics did not give way, then I saw it was even IM. I do not know whether I take to confirm the presence of the virus, but I will check it out. And also not been treated properly for IM, did not take any anti-viral. Six months later when he had completed 29 years, MS your first sign … I'm the only case of MS in my whole family … I always thought that IM had had to do as a trigger of the disease, until I found the blog …

  9. So, I have a good friend who had IM at 18 missed a year of school etc. As an adult in her forties she had illness diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome. I was shocked to learn she couldn't walk for a while and even lost some of her vision. Then she got better! I haven't seen her lately but think she's well although prone to fatigue. All sounds very familiar to me! Is CFS really MS? Didn't like to raise the subject with my friend she was just so happy to be well again. Pretty sure she never had MRI. I just hope she remains well. Would appreciate your thoughts on CFS.

  10. "Why is IM referred to as the kissing disease?" Because it's easier to say than infectious mononucleosis.

  11. I never had Mono, chicken pox or the mumps. I did kiss quite a bit and still do.An interesting question here to consider that I do not see mentioned is what about kidlettes. If you have grandchildren for example. More than likely given odds they will probably will end up with EBV at some point in life.But towards Pediatric MS, is EBV found in children with Pediatric MS?if EBV is not transmitted via kiss (on the lips) is it ok to kiss a grandchild on the cheek? Or might they transmit then by hand on cheek into mouth? Does EBV live long outside the body? Back in the early days of HIV it was said for example that HIV had a very short life when exposed to common air.Does common antibacterials such as hand cleaner's alcohol based murder EBV?How resilient is the virus?Any homeopathic types of impactors on it?

  12. re Ms Unites your question.. Does EBV live long outside the body?I wondered about this and would like to know. The NHS website for glandular fever discusses "Small children may be infected by chewing toys that have been contaminated with the virus."That to me sounds like it can live quite a long time outside the body.

  13. Ahhhh the tragedy – the first girl I ever kissed when I was 14 gave me glandular fever (IM) and I was sick for a few weeks with it. I recovered but would frequently relapse with mild fever after becoming run down with sport, study and a lack of sleep. I would go home, sleep for a day and then feel better again. This pattern continued well into my 20s where I almost never became properly sick, I'd just get the beginnings with a sore throat and feel a bit 'off'. I'd sleep then wake up good to go again – my super immune system was something we'd often joke about. I was then diagnosed with RRMS at 28, not so funny!I know that this is a case study where N=1, but I find the viral hypothesis is very compelling. It does not feel like too much of a stretch that this repeated pattern of mild viral relapses may have had impact on my immune system. I'll be donating just because this really needs to be followed through.

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