Mononucleosis tests are blood tests to look for antibodies that indicate mononucleosis (mono), which is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The antibodies are made by the immune system to fight an infection.
Mono tests include:
- Rapid mono test. This test detects a type of antibody that forms during certain infections. Rapid mono testing can usually detect antibodies about a week after a person is infected.
- EBV antibody test. This can detect different types of antibodies to help determine whether you were infected recently or sometime in the past.
Why It Is Done
The rapid mono test is done to help diagnose a recent mono infection.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibody testing is also done to help diagnose mono. The EBV antibody test can help determine whether you have ever been infected with the virus and whether the infection has been recent.
EBV antibody testing is usually done when you have symptoms of infectious mononucleosis and a rapid mono test result is negative. EBV antibody testing may also be done to check for antibodies to EBV when a person has a disease or uses medicine that causes problems with the immune system.
How To Prepare
In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.
How It Is Done
The rapid mono test is done on a small sample of blood taken from your fingertip or from a vein. The Epstein-Barr antibody test is done on a blood sample taken from your vein.
Blood test from a finger stick
For a finger-stick sample, the health professional will puncture the skin on your middle or ring finger with a small tool called a lancet. Then they'll collect a small amount of blood.
Blood test from a vein
A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.
How It Feels
When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.
Rapid mono test
The results of a rapid mono test are usually ready within 1 hour.
The blood sample does not form clumps (no heterophil antibodies are detected).
The blood sample clumps (heterophil antibodies are detected). If the blood sample clumps, you probably have mono.
Epstein-Barr antibody testing
The results of an EBV antibody test are usually ready within 3 days.
The results of the antibody test to detect Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are usually reported as positive (antibodies are present) or negative (antibodies are not present).
The EBV antibody test can also detect the type of antibodies (immunoglobulins) present in the blood. The type of antibody shows whether the infection is recent or old.
No IgM antibody against EBV is present.
If the antibody IgG is present, it may mean that you have been exposed to EBV in the past.
The antibody IgM against EBV is present.
Current as of: September 8, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Caroline S. Rhoads MD - Internal Medicine