How not to get sick this Valentine’s Day
Unfortunately, much more than love is in the air on Valentine’s Day. If your date is sick on Valentine’s Day, better to stay away and celebrate on another day, than risk any of these illnesses:
Colds and flu
Mid-winter is prime-time for transmission of cold and flu viruses, which are peaking in prevalence around the country. Viruses are spread by contact and respiratory particles, and are easily contagious from an infected person through kissing, hugging, holding hands or even inhabiting the same space. Respiratory symptoms typically include some combination of nasal congestion, sore throat, cough and possibly fever or body aches. Influenza is a particularly miserable virus, and will likely make you more ill than you’ve ever been as an adult, with a high fever, dry painful cough, and aching all over. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, it’s still not too late. Tamiflu is a flu-specific , antiviral drug that if taken when flu symptoms start, can make symptoms less severe and shorten the duration of the illness.
Streptococcus is a bacterial throat infection that typically causes a painful throat, swollen lymph nodes (glands) and a fever, and can be passed from one person to another by kissing. Strep is not generally accompanied by congestion or cough. If your honey has a sore throat and fever, you may want to get them to the doctor for a rapid strep test — that will indicate whether antibiotics are required to treat the bacterial infection, or if the sore throat is caused by a cold virus, which is much more common.
There are any number of gastrointestinal viruses that may be transmitted from person to person and may result in a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Although not actually an influenza virus, this illness is often called a stomach flu or 24-hour bug, as the symptoms often resolve in a short period of time. This type of gastroenteritis is common in winter months. One cause of belly bugs is norovirus, which is sometimes in the press when an entire cruise ship becomes infected — it’s very contagious, especially in groups of people in close quarters (i.e. you and your Valentine!).
Sometimes referred to as the kissing disease, mono is easily transmitted by smooching. It’s caused by yet another virus, Epstein-Barr, that causes, fever, swollen glands, malaise and fatigue, sometimes lasting for two to three weeks. Mono is usually self-limited, requiring only supportive care, and can be diagnosed by a simple blood test.
There are two viruses that cause the infection: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-2 has been the predominant source of genital herpes, while HSV-1 causes oral cold sores and canker sores of the lips and mouth. But with changing intimacy practices, both viruses commonly cause genital herpes. Sex and oral sex can spread HSV-1 and HSV-2, as can kissing or even sharing a drinking glass with someone who has active cold sores, so be careful.
If keeping your distance doesn’t make your heart grow fonder, then wash your hands frequently, wipe down all surfaces with a household disinfectant, sleep in separate beds, and blow kisses from across the room.