When most people hear “STD”, they typically think about chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, etc. Not many people consider mono as an STD, but contrary to popular belief, mono, aka “the kissing disease”, is in fact an STD and should therefore be taken just as seriously as any other STD.
Mononucleosis is a very common infectious disease (over 3 million cases in the US every year) caused primarily by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV); however, it can also be caused by the Cytomegalovirus (CMV)—approximately 10%-15% of mono cases are caused by CMV. Both viruses are members of the herpes family and are only contracted by direct contact with infected bodily fluids. Although mono can be contracted non-sexually, for example through sharing cups or eating utensils with an infected person, it is primarily contracted through kissing and sexual intercourse. Just about anyone can contract mono, but the vast majority of cases occur in individuals between the ages of 14 and 18 years old. Symptoms of mono typically include extreme fatigue, fever, rash, and swollen glands, and become present 4 to 6 weeks following exposure to the virus. Symptoms usually go away on their own within a few weeks.
With this disease affecting so many people, especially teenagers, it is important that people are well informed on how this disease is contracted, its symptoms, and most importantly, how to prevent contracting it in the first place. The STD Project is a great source for more information on mono and other STDs, prevention, treatment, and testing.