Now my husband has mono. Should I not kiss him?

Our son had mono a couple of months ago (I started a thread on it, but I am WAY too lazy to link to it, and in any case he’s just fine now, although he hasn’t stopped being a teenager, so ‘fine’ is a relative concept). This week, my husband got the results of his blood test of a week before that and it confirmed that he has mono now, too. He started being all symptomy about 5 weeks ago and it’s gone up and down depending on how much rest he was getting, but that’s not what my question is about. My question is simply: should I avoid kissing him until he’s no longer showing symptoms?

As I see it, the arguments for pro-kissing are: although I have no memory of having mono ever, the odds favor my having had it as a child or teen, so I’m not likely to pick it up now. Plus, it’s not like we haven’t kissed over the last five weeks, so if I were going to get infected, it’s probably already percolating and avoiding kisses now won’t protect me.

The argument against kissing is that if I get sick, who’s going to take care of all these sickies around me? Or me, for that matter?

The anti-kissing argument is that if I’ve managed to keep from getting infected so far, I ought not to push my luck.

The argument against no kissing is pretty simple: I don’t wanna stop kissing my fella! I really like kissing him!

Soooooo … what should I do (or not do) here?

And as an aside, in the last two months, my sister-in-law and my best friend, in separate cities on a distant continent, have also come down with mono. Is there some weird mono epidemic going on, or is it just an odd coincidence?

IAN a medical doctor, but this website suggests that it’s generally believed that a person can spread the infection for many months after the symptoms are completely gone–some studies show mono can be contagious for up to eighteen months.

Your mileage may vary. :smack:

Tremendous – I’ll just let him know that we can get smoochy again somewhere around summer 2013. :smack:

Added to it, I’ve read that once you’ve had mono, it can reactivate at times and either give you subtle symptoms or no symptoms at all. At those times, you are contagious. I’m beginning to feel like the only answer is to be reckless and plant a big one on my beloved whenever I feel like it. Take that, mono!

There’s some chance that you’ve been exposed and have already developed immunity to this particular strain. Or you can be infected but asymptomatic. In either case further exposure won’t make you sick(er).

In general, when your body is exposed to some pathogen, your immune system develops a way to recognize and attack that particular strain. In effect, the pathogen is racing against the immune system, in the chance that it can establish itself and spread before your immune system defeats it. Usually your immune system wins and you fight off the infection and develop immunity even before you get sick. Sometimes the pathogen wins and manages to infect other people before your immune system clears the pathogen.

I believe that you can be tested as well, and there are tests that distinguish between past and current infections. See this CDC page for more details.

Personally, I’d take the risk. But it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first.

Some facts, from the subscription medical website UpToDate:

Bottom line: Risk of getting it is low, but not zero, and there aren’t any real good ways to reduce the risk further short of severely restricting your contacts with your spouse for a rather long time. Most couples find that “cure” to be worse than a case of mono.

Disclaimer: IAAMD who treats patients with mono and other communicable diseases.

I didn’t realize mono was one of those diseases that you only got once. I had it in high school (it swept through the entire drama department–surprised? No, me neither.) so I guess that means I can’t get it again? Or from what I’m reading in this thread, it could potentially be “reactivated” in the future? What would trigger that? Further exposure or does it just happen randomly?

This is true for any specific serotype of a disease. This also applies to common diseases like influenza or the common cold – once you have immunity to one serotype, you won’t be reinfected by it (assuming your immune system is functioning well). But many common diseases like influenza and the cold have many naturally occuring serotypes, and they mutate rapidly to generate new serotypes. (The HxNx designations for a flu strain specify its serotype. Typically there’s one dominant serotype each season, which is it’s rare to get the flu more than once in a given season). Diseases that you “only get once” are just the cases where the pathogen only has a single serotype.

I’m mildly surprised that mono turns out not to be particularly contagious, given that such a huge proportion of adults has been exposed to it at one point or another. In any case, I’ve decided that this is one of those risks that you have to accept to have any hope of intimacy in your life, like a broken heart or that low-level irritation you feel upon realizing that nobody in the house has the confidence or skills necessary to change the toilet paper roll when it’s down to a cardboard tube.

I will be kissing my beloved whenever I damned well feel like it. La!

Thanks for the assistance, all!

I just wanted to say:


How cute!

I’m pretty sure that if I had mono, my wife would spend most of an afternoon looking for medical evidence to support her decision NOT to kiss me for at least 4 months.


I got mono from one spoonful of ice cream so my advice would be DON’T KISS HIM!! I had shared literally one spoon of ice cream with my friend who had “gotten over” mono a few months earlier so yeah…it’s contagious. Yay freshman year of college!

I was (as far as I could tell) the only student in my theatre department that didn’t get mono when it was going around that year. That pretty much sealed my reputation then, and now I get to live in fear that I’m going to get it from some random member of the public while I’m at work.

Nice to know that it isn’t actually that contagious, but I still worry. People do nasty nasty things to library books.

Did he get it from riding the monorail?

Kissing is better in stereo, anyway (unless it its The Beatles, of course).

The day I found a booger pressed between the pages of a library book was the day I stopped checking out books from the library. I know that realistically my immune system is 99.9999% guaranteed to be able to protect me from anything a library book might harbor, but even if you boiled a booger and soaked it in bleach to make it sterile… that doesn’t make it any less gross. I can’t look at library books anymore without thinking of how many people have sat on the toilet reading them, or done any number of other gross things. I have a slightly less severe reaction to used books (I will actually buy used books, though I haven’t since I got my Kindle) since fewer people handle those. I have an overactive imagination and while I try not to be a germophobe, I lean that way.

To me this is an argument in favour of kissing - if it’s that contagious then if you live together there’s almost no way to avoid it, so you may as well not forgo kisses for months on end in a futile exercise.

How do you know? Did you not share any other food or drink or close contact with anyone else?