Rest and recovery for Butch

Redshirt freshman forward is out indefinitely with mononucleosis

MADISON – Since Brian Butch was diagnosed with mononucleosis Feb. 9, he has been away from the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team, resting and recovering rather than watching his teammates practice and play.

According to UW coach Bo Ryan, Butch, a 6-foot-11 redshirt freshman forward, went home to Appleton last week to rest and began attending classes again this week.

"The end of last week he was so sick that it was just that he needed a rest," assistant coach Greg Gard added. "He was doing a lot of sleeping and he just needs to get his rest right now. When it works where he can come back and get back on track than he'll do that."

Mono can effect people in widely varied fashions, so it is difficult to know when Butch will regain enough energy to begin practicing. But the common assumption is that with rest the infection can run its course in 2-4 weeks, though individuals may feel fatigue weeks or even a few months later, particularly if they do not allow the disease to run its course.

Mono is not highly infectious and Butch's teammates are not concerned with contacting in from him.

"I'm not too worried about it," senior forward Mike Wilkinson said. "I've already had it so I'm not going to get it again."

When did Wilkinson have it? He said he is not sure.

"People thought I had it when I was a freshman here…. Before the Marquette game….I got the blood work back and they said I already had it, so my chances of getting it again are very unlikely…. Whenever I had it before I wasn't too bad."

Wilkinson is not alone in not knowing when he had mono. According to publications written and made available online by the National Center on Infectious Diseases and the Mayo Clinic, 95 percent of adults between the ages of 35 and 40 have been infected with Epstein-Barr Virus, which causes mononucleosis.

Wilkinson said he thought he may have had mono in high school, but it is more likely that he contracted it during childhood, when most cases of EBV are "indistinguishable from the other mild, brief illnesses of childhood" according to the NCID. Even among adolescents and young adults, only 35-50 percent of cases result in full-blown mono.

Since EBV is a virus, rather than a bacterial infection, mono cannot be treated with antibiotics; it simply needs to run its course. The disease is not highly infectious since it is typically transmitted via saliva, rather than being an airborne virus, and since so many people have already contracted it, even without knowing it.

The Badgers' certainly wish Butch a speedy recovery. One of the team's top reserves, Butch was averaging 4.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game before this setback. In his last three games prior to being diagnosed with the illness, he was averaging 7.0 points and 3.3 rebounds.

"Brian has a lot of energy," sophomore forward Alando Tucker said. "He's a character and his role on the team is he is an energizer. It helps us out when he's on the bench and we're warming up, we see him and we hear him all the time. It is just his presence on the court. He brings a lot of positive things to the team when he gets out there."

Said Wilkinson: "He's definitely one of those free-spirited guys that comes in, has a lot of fun and enjoys playing this game and enjoys being here. Those guys you always feel bad for them when they can't be here, but all you can do is what's best for the team and as soon as he's ready to come back he'll be here I guarantee it.

"He wishes he could be here playing on the floor, practicing, just being part of this team, but he knows he's got to get his rest and that's what's best for the team right now is to keep him back full strength ready to go."

Though there has not been a recent case of mono within the UW basketball team, two UW football players have dealt with bouts of mono in the past three seasons.

Guard Dan Buenning was diagnosed with mono at the beginning of fall training camp his sophomore season, in August of 2002. He missed two weeks of practice and played in but did not start the Badgers' season-opener that year, about a month after diagnosis.

UW quarterback John Stocco was diagnosed with mono last June but recovered by the time practices began in August.

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