If your children have ever come down with mono, you know it can be a harrowing experience. The symptoms are difficult to handle, and your child may have to stay home from school.
Unfortunately, the US estimates between 200 and 800 cases of mono per 100,000 young adults occur every year.
I wanted to know when I could send my kid back to school after they’d been diagnosed, and thought that others might as well.
Your child should not go to school if they have mono. They are contagious until around five days after their fever breaks and other symptoms, such as fatigue, body aches, sore throat subside. Before this, keep your child home from school if they have mono.
Mono can last for days, weeks, and sometimes even months. There are many facets to this disease, so let’s take a look at what mono is and when you can send your child back to school.
Can My Child Go To School With Mono?
It’s best to keep your child home if they have mono, and for the first five days after having a fever.
The virus can be contagious during this time. It is less likely that someone will get the disease from being around someone with mono after this time.
It’s best to keep your child away from other kids until their fever has been gone for five days.
It’s up to the doctor and the school if they will allow sick children back into class after this time.
Sometimes it takes longer than five days before the doctor knows if someone can return to school.
Your child may be able to go to school while they still have mono but only at the discretion of their doctor.
Be sure to check with them as well as the school if you want to send your child back to school after mono.
What Is Mono?
Mono, or mononucleosis, is an infectious disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Mono is called ‘the kissing disease’ because it is spread through saliva.
Of course, you don’t have to kiss someone to get mono. You can spread it by using the same drinking cups, water bottles, or utensils.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can expect to see signs of mono between 4 to 6 weeks after exposure. For this reason, it’s difficult to track down the source.
Younger children usually aren’t diagnosed with mono. Mono-like symptoms in this age range are usually due to other causes.
Instead, it’s common in teenagers and young adults. People between 15 and 19 are commonly infected. As we’ll examine below, adults are rarely infected due to previous exposure and immunity.
Is Mononucleosis A Bacterial Infection Or A Virus?
Mono is a virus, which means that antibiotics aren’t effective. Sicknesses caused by bacterial infections can be cured quickly with antibiotics, but viruses must run their course.
Mononucleosis Symptoms And Diagnosis
It may be difficult to diagnose mono at first. This is because it has many of the same symptoms as common colds or the flu.
The Center for Disease Control lists the symptoms of mononucleosis as:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen liver or spleen
- Sore throat
- Body aches
As you can see, many of these symptoms are the same as a standard cold. Doctors will usually test for mono, but you may have to ask if you have doubts. The test is a standard blood work panel, so prepare your child for that.
After a mono diagnosis, your child should stay home from school and isolate from other kids.
How Serious Is Mono For My Child?
For most children, mono will seem like a long, miserable cold. However, the enlargement of the spleen may become a more serious issue. Even after symptoms subside, their spleen may remain enlarged.
If this is the case, they should avoid any trauma to the spleen (including contact sports).
The spleen could rupture or bleed if any strain is placed on it. This is the only long-term or dangerous problem that may arise from mono.
If your child’s spleen or liver is enlarged, their doctor may focus on treating that organ specifically.
Otherwise, antibiotics are useless against mononucleosis. It’s a virus, so antibiotics may make it worse.
Instead, the CDC recommends treating mono with rest, fluids, and pain relievers. Fever-reducing over-the-counter medications can help your child feel better during the worst days of their mono infection.
Your child’s infection can last for weeks or months, though their fever shouldn’t last that long.
Make sure to keep in contact with their doctor and keep track of symptoms.
Is Mono Contagious?
Mononucleosis is contagious, especially during the fever period. During this time, your child shouldn’t go to school or interact with other children.
While mono isn’t as contagious as the common cold or some other communicable diseases, it’s still dangerous.
While it doesn’t spread as easily, it still spreads. To avoid other children becoming sick, make sure to keep your child isolated while they are contagious.
It’s hard to keep mono from spreading due to the nature of the virus.
How Long Is Mono Contagious For?
There are some reports that mono isn’t contagious for long, but experts disagree. In an article reviewed by Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD, KidsHealth states that mono can be contagious as long as symptoms last. This can be anywhere from 2 weeks to several months.
Mono is difficult for your child, and they may feel sick for a long time. To avoid spreading the sickness, keep treating your child for mono even as the symptoms (listed above) subside.
Can I Catch Mono From My Child?
There is a very small chance that you may catch mono from your child. Most adults are immune to the virus due to exposure as a child.
Whether you were infected or not, chances are you carry the virus – which makes you immune to it now.
Mono can spread among siblings. This is why isolating an infected child is important. It’s unlikely to spread to adult family members, including uncles, aunts, parents, and grandparents.
When Can My Child Go Back To School?
Here’s the answer everyone has been waiting for. It may be hard to keep your child home due to work schedules and other concerns. However, the reality is that the longer you keep them home, the better.
The standard for sending your child back to school is usually about 5 days after their fever has stopped.
Their other symptoms (as listed above) should be gone as well. However, every child is different.
You should consult with the school and your child’s doctor before deciding to send them back to school.
Do I Need A Doctor’s Release To Send My Child Back To School?
Some schools require a doctor’s release. To make sure, check with your child’s school beforehand. They will let you know what they need to allow your child back into class.
In the meantime, they will probably allow you to pick up coursework and homework for your child.
Getting a doctor’s approval is the best route to go, however. It may not be easy for parents to determine if a child is still contagious, so consulting a professional is best.
What If My Child Has Been Exposed To Mono?
Mono has an incubation time of about 1-2 months. If your child has been exposed to mono, stock up on an over-the-counter fever reducer, fluids, and other supplies.
There is a chance that your child won’t get mono, even if they have been exposed. It’s up to your child’s immune system.
Just be aware that they might have contracted the disease. Because it takes a while for symptoms to start, just do your best to be prepared.
After exposure, your child isn’t contagious. Doctors seem to agree that children are only contagious as long as they are showing symptoms. They can still go to school and may never need to take time out.
Mono Prevention Tips
There are a few ways you can prevent your child from contracting mono. Mostly, these are the same rules that apply to other contagious illnesses. However, there are a few unique tips for protecting your child from mono.
Don’t Share Food Or Drinks
Encourage your child to avoid sharing eating utensils, drinks, and food with friends. Of course, not everyone has mono or is spreading it.
The only sure way to keep your child from catching mono is to ensure that they are never exposed.
This means making sure they know not to come into contact with someone else’s saliva, including kissing and sharing water bottles.
Avoid Contact With Active Mono Patients
It sucks that your child may not be able to see their friends for a while. If their friends have mono, it’s important that they stay away.
Since it is so easy to spread, it’s important that you don’t send them to see their sick friends.
As stated above, it’s generally okay for your kids to see their friends again after the symptoms pass.
Healthy Immune Systems
If you are worried about your child getting sick, you should protect their immune system.
There are a ton of natural immune system boosters (including garlic, zinc, and echinacea). If you aren’t sure where to begin, there are plenty of resources online.
Even if your child has been exposed, a healthy immune system can prevent infection.
Get Enough Sleep And Eat Well
Diet and sleep are important for keeping us healthy. Make sure that your child is eating right and getting enough sleep.
This can help protect them against mono and other sicknesses. If they aren’t getting enough exercise, encourage them to get moving.
All of these tips require proper communication. Make sure you explain the need for sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and a strong immune system.
Mono may not be life-threatening in most cases, but it is a long and miserable disease.
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Mono is not fun for anyone involved. Always consult your child’s doctor to determine if they are ready to return to school after mono.
Doctors generally allow children back to school if their fever and other symptoms have been gone for at least 5 days.
To prevent mono, make sure to avoid contact with infected people. Don’t drink or eat after people who may have been exposed.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.