Preventing the spread of mono

Caring For Our Kids


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – It’s often called the kissing disease… but that’s only one of the ways you can get mononucleosis, or mono.

Mono is common and highly contagious.

Dr. Kristin Farr with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital stopped by the WATE 6 On Your Side studios to share answers to some common questions about mono.

Can you get mono from just a quick kiss or peck on the lips?

Yes, because the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is carried in saliva. It can be spread by kissing, sharing a toothbrush, drinking straw or eating utensil, even sharing lip gloss with someone who has the virus.

If I had mono years ago, am I still contagious?

Once someone gets mono, the virus stays in that person’s body for life.

That doesn’t mean you are always contagious if you’ve had mono, but the virus can surface from time to time and risk infecting someone else.

You can be contagious with mono from the time you first become infected, but may not show symptoms for four to seven weeks after. You can spread the infection for many months after symptoms are gone.

I don’t feel well, but how do I know if it’s mono?

These are some of the symptoms, but a doctor will need to run a blood test to be sure. It’s important to see your doctor.

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Fever
  • Muscle Aches and Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

Is it really important to stay out of sports if I have mono?

Yes. Listen to your doctor because it can be serious. An enlarged spleen with mono makes traumatic rupture of the spleen a possible complication. Swelling of throat and tonsils can also lead to airway obstruction when severe. Mono can sometimes require hospitalization.

What will it take to get better?

Antibiotics do NOT work on mono. It has to run its course, and rest is necessary to recover. You can treat symptoms of fever with over the counter medication. Staying hydrated is key. You may feel tired for weeks after having mono.

How can I steer clear of this virus?

It’s hard to prevent mono from spreading, but your best defense is frequent hand washing and not sharing anything someone has put their mouth on… like drinks and utensils. Limiting kissing can help, too.

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