We’ve all had or know someone who has had strep throat at some point, but not every sore throat is caused by a strep infection. Strep (group A streptococcus) is a bacterium that is a frequent cause of a sore throat, but the most common cause is actually from a viral infection. There are many different viruses that can cause a sore throat, like during a cold or from flu.
Mononucleosis (Mono) is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), which can sometimes be mistaken as strep throat or the flu because they present similarly. Both mono and strep throat can cause fever, body aches, swollen tonsils, swollen lymph nodes, and headaches.
There are a few differences between mono and strep throat that can help differentiate the two. Strep more commonly causes white patches on the tonsils or red spots on the roof of the mouth. Mono commonly causes enlargement of the spleen, which makes that area very tender.
Mono is also known as the “kissing disease,” but it can also be spread in the same ways as other viruses. Over 90% of adults have been infected with the Epstein-Barr Virus at some point in their life.
By: Joshua White, PA-C