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Health Team

Mono diagnoses increase during flu season

Posted April 5
Updated April 6

Cold and flu season is still very much active, but there are other viruses causing misery this time of year.

WRAL Health Team's Dr. Allen Mask says many people are coming down with something known as "kissing disease."

Infectious mono is often called the kissing disease because the virus is transmitted through saliva. People can also be exposed through a cough or sneeze, or by sharing a glass or eating utensils with someone who has mono. The most common cause is the Epstein-Barr virus.

Children and young adults are the most at risk for mono, but it can be seen at any age.

After exposure, it takes four to six weeks for symptoms to appear. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, enlarged neck lymph nodes, an enlarged spleen and fatigue.

Diagnosis involves blood work and a physical exam with your doctor.

Antibiotics don't work against mononucleosis, or any virus for that matter.

Treatments include fluids, about a week bed rest, salt water gargles, good nutrition and fever-controlling medications, such as acetaminiophen or ibuprofen.

Without proper treatment, people with the virus risk infecting others.

The Epstein-Barr virus can persist in your saliva for months after the infection, so it's important to avoid kissing or sharing utensils.

Another potential risk involves an enlarged spleen, so contact sports like football or basketball could cause the spleen to rupture, which would be a medical emergency.

The good news is you can only get mono once. You'll carry the virus in a dormant state for the rest of your life.

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