Even though it can be transmitted through sexual activity, it’s not widely noted as an STD. Instead, mono is called the kissing disease, occurring through saliva, sharing utensils and drinks, and other close contact actions.
Over 90% of Americans will have had mono before their 35th birthday, usually affecting teenagers and young adults. However, children can also get this disease. For the majority of people, mono isn’t serious, needing only treatment to cure the disease. Symptoms of mono include:
When you suffer from mono, it can make concentrating difficult. People who develop mono tend to recover within a month, but the fatigue has been known to last close to six months after the initial illness.
Most cases of the highly contagious mono are caused by EBV, which can remain inactive in the body. While most people will only get mono once, if EBV becomes active again, then symptoms may or may not appear. However, even if symptoms don’t appear, the virus can be spread to partners, including those with compromised immune systems.
There are no vaccines for mono currently, and treatment focuses on symptom management such as drinking lots of fluid, resting and taking over-the-counter meds to ease the pain or fever. Contact sports should also be avoided during this time as it can cause the spleen to rupture. You may be told to avoid penicillin drugs like amoxicillin.
A doctor will determine whether or not you have mono by looking at the symptoms and checking your lymph nodes to learn if they are swollen. Blood tests may also be necessary if the doctor feels you have an unusual case of mono.
According to a 2007 article, the authors noted that EBV was considered an STD, even though not every case of mono is the result of sexual transmission. EBV is noted as one of four viruses that can be transmitted sexually. In most cases, saliva is the cause of mono transmission, such as sharing utensils or glasses with an infected person.
If a person suspects that they have mono, it’s recommended that they get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD