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Careful Who You Kiss Under the Mistletoe


If you happen to catch yourself under a mistletoe this Christmas, make sure you think twice about who you kiss. Butterflies aren't the only thing you might take with you after that kiss.

"Mono," which stands for mononucleosis, is a common illness that can leave you feeling tired and weak for weeks or months. Mono can be spread through contact with saliva. Because the virus can be spread through kissing, it has earned the nickname the "kissing disease." If you have mono, you can avoid passing the virus to others by not kissing anyone and by not sharing things like drinking glasses, eating utensils, or toothbrushes.

Another disease you might take away from that spontaneous mistletoes kiss is meningitis, or meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease is bacterial and causes bloodstream infections and meningitis. College students, especially those living in residence halls, are prone to contracting the disease because of their close proximity to each other.

But it's not just the mistletoe you should worry about this holiday season. If you're going to a holiday party this month it might be a good idea to keep your drink and germs to yourself. "When you are in a situation with a whole bunch of people who share items like cups, water bottles, lipstick or engage in unhygienic behavior, it just magnifies the risk," said Sankar Swaminathan, MD, division chief of infectious diseases at University of Utah Health.

It's easy to mistake the early signs of meningitis for the flu. Both have symptoms that include a high fever, vomiting and nausea. Butaccording to Swaminathan anytime a high fever is accompanied by a severe headache you should see a doctor right away.

During the holiday jolly, don't forget to take a minute to wash your hands and stay home if you're sick.