What is infectious mononucleosis (IM)?

Updated: May 24, 2019
  • Author: Michael S Omori, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Infectious mononucleosis (IM) is a clinical syndrome. IM represents the immunopathologic expression that occurs under a specific set of circumstances and in response to infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

These circumstances primarily relate to the age and immunocompetency of the patient when the infection is acquired.

IM was first described in 1920. In 1932, the association between the disease syndrome and a positive heterophile antibody test was recognized. It was not until 1968 that EBV was identified as the most likely causative agent of IM.

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