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Glandular fever is caused by the EB virus (Epstein Barr virus), a variety of herpes virus. The virus lives and is spread through saliva and therefore is acquired through mouth to mouth contact including kissing. Glandular fever is extremely infectious and in most parts of the world is acquired during childhood as a minor viral illness that often goes completely un-noticed. Within the more protected and hygienic environments of the western world there is less chance of catching glandular fever during childhood and conversely a much higher risk once an individual moves into a group setting. This is why glandular fever is so common in late adolescence and early adult life when people get together at collegesand universities.There are a number of other viruses that can cause asimilar picture; these include cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis and in this case blood tests may be necessary to decide on the cause.

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