Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kissing Can Be More Dangerous Than You Think

Meningitis isn't normally thought of as a sexually transmitted diesease. However, it certainly can be and, get this, the transmission need not even involve actual intercourse. For instance, researchers in Australia have just announced the results of a study showing that "French kissing" with multiple partners can quadruple a teenager's risk of developing meningitis. And, yes, meningitis can be fatal.

The lead researcher of the study group suggested that the findings certainly should warn young people off the practice of "party kissing" and other situations in which intimate kissing occurs between several partners -- even over the space of a couple of weeks. But, he said, it probably won't change their behavior at all.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain lining. Septicemia is a form of the disease involving blood poisoning. Neither is a pleasant thing to experience at whatever degree of virulence it hits. And when you figure that about one in every ten teenagers carries meningococcal bacteria, you can see the high risks involved.

The lead researcher, Robert Booy of Children's Hospital Westmead in Sydney, Australia, explained: "We all carry bacteria in our throats, and some of us will carry the meningococcal bacteria...They don't exist very well outside of the body. But if it can pass in saliva, from one person to the next, then it passes very easily."