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Kids and the kissing disease?

We are currently seeing an uptick in Mononucleosis (Mono) in our Children’s Hospital.

You may think this is odd because mono is better known as “the kissing disease,” a virus that affects older teens or young adults. The reality is that the virus can and does regularly affect children; it’s just that the symptoms tend to be longer lasting and more severe the older you are. And, being called “the kissing disease” is really a misnomer because the virus is spread not only through kissing but through any exchange of saliva, which can happen when a person coughs, sneezes or shares drinks or food.

Most people, children included, who get mono will not end up in the hospital. In fact, its symptoms most resemble a flu or strep throat that just lasts longer than normal – sometimes the fatigue can last for months. The combination of and severity of the symptoms sometimes discourages people from eating and drinking for an extended period of time, so it is actually dehydration that causes people with mono to be hospitalized the vast majority of the time.


  • Low grade fever
  • A sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Unexplained fatigue or weakness
  • Abdominal pain, which can indicate an enlarged spleen


  • Diagnosed with a blood test


  • Mono is a virus, so the best we can do is to treat the symptoms. Advil or Tylenol can be used to treat pain and fever.
  • If your symptoms become severe, you have trouble breathing or have symptoms of dehydration, please seek medical treatment


  • Good hand hygiene and handwashing
  • Avoiding people who are sick
  • Not sharing food or drinks with others

Most people have been exposed to the virus that causes mono – Epstein-Barr – by the age of 35.   Once you have had the virus, you will carry it for life but will most likely not experience symptoms again.