The "Kissing Disease" is also known as Mononucleosis
(Mono) or Glandular Fever. It's caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus,
and it's symptoms include severe fatigue, fever, swollen tonsils
and enlarged glands. The disease is very common in children and
young people, and up to 90% of the population may have had it at
some point, most without knowing it.
It's knowns as the "kissing disease" because of the belief
that it's spread purely by kissing, or actually caused by
kissing. The fact that the disease occurs most often in adolescents
(who may have recently started kissing others) added to the myth.
It does have an element of truth in it; one can income infected
through saliva, so kissing can be a culprit. However, coughing,
sneezing and touch are also methods of spreading the virus.
After a person has been infected, the virus stays in their system
for the rest of their life. Thus, adults may be responsible for
infecting their children.
There are no drugs available to treat the disease. At present the
recommended advice is for the individual to drink fluids and get
plenty of bed rest.
Other Diseases That Can Spread Via Kissing
Kissing someone who has a cold will make you susceptible to contracting
their cold virus. The same goes for influenza, measles and meningitis.
You can become infected with the herpes simplex type 1 (coldsore)
virus by kissing someone who has the virus. The sexual version of
the herpes virus (type 2) can be transferred through kissing if
there is mutual oral sex involved.
In very rare cases, STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis or chlamydia
can be transmitted via kissing, however there would need to be oro-genital
contact for this to occur.
If in doubt, remember that it's always best to wear a condom or
use a dental dam.
Kissing does NOT transmit AIDS or HIV, Hepatitis B or cancer.