“On Fire: Beer Pong Spreads Herpes, Mono, Flu”

(UWire) A buzz might not be the only thing students are catching from beer pong.

Beer Pong is arguably the most popular drinking game at universities
nationwide. It is normally played on a table with 10 cups racked in a
triangle at both ends.

The basic objective of the game is to shoot a ping pong ball into the opponent’s cups.

When one team eliminates all the opposition’s cups, they win.

Although many students play the game as a means to drink, they are
swallowing more than they bargain for.

Sharing cups with a partner can transmit common flu-like viruses, mononucleosis and even herpes simplex virus (commonly known as cold sores).

Ryan McFadyen, a senior in exercise science, had mono his junior year at Ohio State.

‘I felt pretty inexplicably run down for a couple of months before I found
out that I had mono, and I’m certain that I played beer pong during that time frame. I was in a serious relationship at the time, and beer pong was the only place that I could have contracted mono in the first place,’ McFadyen said.

‘I’m pretty confident that I contracted it while playing beer pong, and that I probably spread it to others in the same manner.’ Mononucleosis, also known as the ‘kissing disease,’ is characterized by swollen lymph glands and chronic fatigue. It is spread through infected saliva, which beer pong partners indirectly share in nearly every game.

‘The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may cause infectious mononucleosis in adolescents and young adults. But even after the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis are gone, the EBV will remain dormant in the throat and blood cells of that person their whole life,’ said Kurt B. Stevenson, associate professor of internal medicine at OSU.

If a player knows he or she is sick or has recently been sick, that player should use a personal cup separate from the game cups.

This way, the transmission of saliva will not affect others.

‘I started to feel better and was pretty sure that I was not contagious anymore.

When it was my turn to drink from the cups that were in play, I would pour the beer from those cups in to my personal cup and drink from that, hoping that this would prevent any infected saliva from touching any of the balls, cups or beer,’ Mcfadyen said.

Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) is most commonly prevalent above the waist, most often in the form of ‘cold sores’ or ‘fever blisters,’ according to OSU Student Health Services.

A person can get HSV-1 by coming into contact with the saliva of an infected person. Therefore, the risk may be just as high as getting mono or the common cold.

Playing with water in the cups instead of beer, and having a personal beer on the side, is a much safer way to play.

This way players won’t take the chance of sharing saliva with their partner, or picking up bacteria from the ball.

And while the possibility of disease is a concern to the students, it doesn’t seem to stop them from playing beer pong.

‘Catching any of those things from beer pong is a definite concern of mine,’ McFadyen said. ‘Cold sores are pretty unsightly. But I’ve always known the risks involved, so that concern isn’t going to affect my decision to play or not.’

Chris Centeno can be reached at centeno.12@osu.edu.

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