New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has been sidelined indefinitely and will miss Monday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns after being diagnosed with infectious mononucleosis, coach Adam Gase revealed on Thursday morning.
It is expected that the Jets will have to do without Darnold for some weeks due to his mononucleosis infection, also known as “the kissing disease.”
Gase and the team’s offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains reportedly delivered the diagnosis to Darnold at his apartment on Wednesday evening. However, Gase said the illness was mild and that they decided to sideline Darnold just “to be a little extra cautious.”
What is infectious mononucleosis or “kissing disease”?
Mononucleosis or mono for short, is often referred to as the “kissing disease” because the viruses that cause the disease are spread through the saliva. Doctors have always believed that one of the most common ways of spreading the disease, especially among young, sexually active people, is through kissing. However, it is possible to get infected with the virus through other means, such as sharing spoons, cups and other utensils.
It is also possible to transmit the virus through body fluids, such as blood and semen, according to WebMD.
Symptoms of mononucleosis take about 4-7 weeks to manifest after initial infection with the virus. Mononucleosis can be caused by several types of viruses, but most cases are due to infection by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Other viruses that can cause the disease are cytomegalovirus (CMV), adenovirus, Hepatitis A, B, or C, rubella, and HIV, according to CDC.
Why doctors want Darnold on the sidelines
Jets team doctors wanted him to stay on the sidelines and not play with his teammates until he fully recovers because the condition is infectious and he could transmit the virus to his teammates and others while playing on the field.
However, another likely reason why the doctors wanted him on the sidelines is to avoid damage to his spleen. The spleen is an organ located on the left side of the abdomen that is responsible for filtering and storing important blood factors — such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets — that help to maintain health by sustaining immunity.
Mononucleosis sometimes causes enlargement of the spleen, known as splenomegaly. An enlarged spleen could easily rupture as a result of blunt trauma sustained during a contact sport such as football. Death could result from a lacerated spleen, so the condition is usually treated as an emergency.
Rupture of the spleen can occur even in young, healthy individuals, due to blunt trauma, but an enlarged spleen due to mononucleosis is even more susceptible to rupture.
Deaths are known to have occurred in the past as a result of a ruptured spleen during a game of football. Many forms of physical contact, including collision and a direct blow to the abdomen, could lead to a ruptured spleen.
A rupture of the spleen usually causes a sudden sharp pain on the left side of the abdomen. Doctors advise patients with mono to immediately seek medical care if they experience a pain such as this.
Doctors also usually recommend that patients should avoid contact sports and rest for at least two weeks after symptoms of the illness resolve to allow the spleen return to its normal size.