RWC tutor Paula Rawlings gives some helpful advice to keep in mind this Valentine's season.
Mono, also known as the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), also known as the kissing disease, also known as infectious mononucleosis, known as cooties to anyone who hasn’t hit puberty yet, is most often spread via fluid from the facial hole identified as the mouth. Either you are familiar with this physical, social interaction called kissing, or you are not. This activity is not for the faint of heart or foul of breath. Interestingly, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, USA), 95% of the adult population between the ages of 35 and 40 are carriers of Mono (Huang et al.). Gross. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that it is pretty rare for someone to experience serious symptoms associated with mono, symptoms such as excessive fatigue or swelling of the heart (Do not confuse this with one’s swelling love for a significant other).
Unfortunately, the Epstein-Barr Virus's mode of transportation is not limited to swapping spit. Its preferred mode of transportation is through saliva, but it can, though extremely rare, infect an infant through breast milk. The virus genome is present in approximately 46 out of 100 breastfeeding women; therefore, mono is likely to spread from mother to infant. It can also spread through organ transplants, semen, and blood. If an organ is EBV-positive, it will infect the new host (Huang et al.). Really, almost any bodily fluids can transmit the virus, but thankfully, there are no cases in which mono has spread via sweat. That means popular Valentine's Day activities, such as sharing most forms of bodily contact, are off limits to anyone paranoid enough to think they don't already have the virus. But if you feel you are one of the few who have never contracted this virus and have a significant other worthy of your facial fluid swapping, go for it. Otherwise, a romantic secret handshake, high five, fist bump, or elbow tap should suffice.
If you find yourself in a situation with your significant other, or some stranger (God forbid), in which you would instead not make facial contact, and this goes for anyone, not just those who think they aren’t carriers, is to try some of the following techniques:
The fake-out sneeze defense: turn as if to sneeze into your elbow (pause for a long time if need be) and say, “Oh, false alarm.”
The allergic reaction: When the kisser is coming in for the kissing, claim you’re allergic to whatever they ate.
The “not in the contract” remark: pull out a preordained document and say, “Sorry, I have a no kissing clause.”
The mask: wear a mask. Come on.