Two stories in the news recently within weeks of each other of babies who have contracted herpes from an unknown source. Herpes can cause really painful cold sores and even life threatening effects on the body.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, cold sores are highly contagious. They can be spread through saliva, skin-to-skin contact, or even touching an object contaminated by the virus. Symptoms like a fever or blisters can start 2-12 days after exposure.
One newborn baby in Iowa, Mariana, unfortunately developed meningitis from the herpes virus and died. Her parents, Nicole and Shane Sifrit, think that she may have gotten it from a kiss from a visitor.
Nicole and Shane Sifrit welcomed baby Mariana on July 1. A week later -- two hours after the couple's wedding -- they say they noticed that the girl was not eating and would not wake up when they tried to get her to respond.
"It's horrific," Nicole Sifrit said. "She had quit breathing, and all her organs just started to fail."
The couple left their wedding early to take Mariana to Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, where they learned that she had contracted meningitis HSV-1, caused by the herpes virus -- the same virus that causes cold sores.
Herpes meningitis can be caused by bacteria, fungi or other types of germs, and it can be spread through sexual contact or from a woman to her baby during childbirth, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Mariana's parents both tested negative for the virus, they said, suggesting that it could have come from others who visited the child.
Nicole has very important advice to be careful who comes into contact with your baby and how:
"They touched her, and then she touched her mouth with her hand," Nicole Sifrit said. "It's hard to pinpoint exactly how she caught the virus, but it's important people are cautious when they let anyone handle their babies."
..."Keep your babies isolated," Nicole Sifrit said. "Don't let just anyone come visit them. Make sure they are constantly washing their hands. Don't let people kiss your baby. And make sure they ask before they pick up your baby."
(via "Iowa newborn dies after developing meningitis from herpes virus")
According to the Meningitis Research Foundation, many people carry the herpes virus without every showing any signs or symptoms.
"Very common to catch the virus, but very rarely does it develop into meningitis." says Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician at Calabasas Pediatrics in California.
Similar advice from Samantha Rogers whose baby Juliano tested positive for herpes as well, in Des Moines, iowa:
"He had blisters growing outside of his mouth," said Samantha Rodgers, his mother.
Rodgers said doctors told her he had the flu or a bad case of hand foot and mouth disease, but it got worse. Juliano was sent to Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines.
"His sores were growing onto his hands and his neck and his stomach," Rodgers said.
"They swabbed his mouth and tested it and it came back as, he has herpes."
..."Pretty much, this person gave my baby herpes not intentionally," she explained. "All I can say is just be cautious, it can be anybody your best friend, your sister, your brother, or your mom, it can be anybody everybody needs to wash their hands sanitize if you see a cold sore or anything on them just don't let them come by your baby."
Baby Juliano is doing better, but he will now carry this burden for the rest of his life.
"It sucks because this is a lifelong problem now. Every time he runs a fever, every time he's sick, he can have an outbreak
Wash hands, and avoid cold sores.