Health18 Jun 2010 04:31 pm
Constant fatigue. Missed parties. Postponed exams. Precipitously falling grades. Feeling “out of the loop” with your friends. And isolation. These are a few of the ways that the scourge of high school and college students, known as “mono” or the “kissing disease,” can put a major damper on your (social) life.
Mono is called the kissing disease for two key reasons- it is transmitted through saliva and mucus and is most common in people 10 to 35 years old (with its peak incidence occurring in the 15 to 17 years old demographic). While only 50 people out of 100,000 of the general population contracts mono each year, the infection strikes as many as 2 out of 1,000 teens and twenty-somethings, especially those in high school, college, and the military. While mono is not usually considered a serious illness, it can take (what feels like) forever for an infected individual to fully recover from a bout with the infection.
Especially in adolescents and young adults, the disease is characterized by extreme and persistent fatigue, fever and sore throat along with several other possible signs and symptoms. It is primarily diagnosed by observation of symptoms, but suspicion can be confirmed by several diagnostic tests.
Caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a member of the much-loved herpes virus family, mono has a long incubation period (30 to 50 days from the time you’re exposed to the virus) before an infected person begins to manifest symptoms. Of course, this increases the likelihood that an infected person will unwittingly spread the virus to others. I shudder to think about the collateral damage potential posed by one unknowingly infected teen and a basement game of spin the bottle.
Mono can be transmitted in other ways, such as sipping from the same straw or glass as an infected person — or even being close when the person coughs or sneezes. Most depressingly, some people remain infectious for up to a year after contracting the virus. This represents a literal kiss of death for the responsible and unattached young person, who must put a halt to all steamy make-out sessions until they get the green light from their doctor. For the teen and twenty-something set, that is easier said than done….
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.