Mono among common back-to-school illnesses - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Mono among common back-to-school illnesses

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Mono has symptoms that closely resemble the flu. (Source: WAFF file) Mono has symptoms that closely resemble the flu. (Source: WAFF file)
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

Parents may be excited the kids are back in school, but the down side is that children have a greater exposure to illnesses.

When you put dozens of kids and teachers together inside for hours at at time, there's bound to be germs and viruses spread.

One that always comes to mind when students head back to school is mononucleosis, otherwise known as Mono.

Officials at the Alabama Department of Public Health said they haven't seen an increase of Mono in the Tennessee Valley because it's not a reportable illness, but they say that doesn't mean it's not out there and being spread.

Often referred to as the "kissing virus," medical professionals say Mono is spread by saliva.

Florence City School's lead nurse, Karen Williams, said Mono has very similar symptoms to the flu.

"It's a virus, so there is no antibiotic that can make it better," Williams said. "It kind of has to run its course and sometimes it does take a while to get over Mono. It makes you feel really bad, you feel almost like you have the flu, it makes you feel real tired and you just have to rest to get over it."

Common symptoms of mono include extreme fatigue, fever, head and body aches, sore throat and even swollen liver or spleen. Click here to read more about the symptoms and characteristics of mononucleosis infection.

In general, health experts said it is typical to see a boost in sick days following long breaks. They said the trick to keeping your child healthy is to teach them good hygiene habits and to practice them everyday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of kids across the U.S., aged 5-17, miss an average of 3 or more days of school per year due to illness and/or injury. With Autumn just around the corner, health officials are left preparing for flu season.

They suggest parents sit and talk with their children about basic health habits that can help keep germs from spreading.

"We encourage our parents, if a child is at home sick, to keep them at home until they are symptom-free for 24 hours without the use of medication," Williams advised.

Williams said that rule-of-thumb helps keep the illness from spreading further, and prevents the child from relapsing with the same illness.

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