New mom Amy Stinton was concerned when her 14-month-old baby, Oliver, developed a few rashes. She took him to the doctor thinking he had chicken pox, only to learn had her baby had, in fact, contracted herpes. While Stinton refuses to place the blame on anyone, she says that Oliver likely became infected after being kissed by someone with a cold sore.
Stinton’s son ended up being hospitalized for four days on an IV drip.
This isn’t the first story of its kind that we’ve seen. In September of 2015, mother Claire Henderson posted pictures of her baby to Facebook after the one-month-old contracted herpes from a kiss from a visitor who did not know they had the infection. That kind of transmission — when the carrier is unaware of an outbreak and does not have any lesions — is extremely rare.
There are two forms of herpes: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2, which is sexually transmitted, is the one most of us think of when we hear the word, “herpes.” The WHO estimates that about 67% of the world’s population has HSV-1, with the percentage at 40-50% in the Americas. For some people, HSV-1 shows up from time to time as a cold sore, but most people who have HSV-1 are asymptomatic and unaware that they have it. Again, it is highly unlikely for people without symptoms to pass on the infection, but anyone with a cold sore or fever blister should not have contact with a baby.
Babies like Henderson’s who are less than three-months-old are particularly vulnerable to herpes, as they have not yet developed the immune system to fight the infection. In babies that young, herpes can cause infections in the brain, eyes, and multiple organs, and can result in life-long disabilities or death.
Since her first post, Stinton has reported that Oliver’s condition has improved, writing on September 14th that he was “still very very sore but better in himself.” Henderson’s baby, Brooke, has also fully recovered. To avoid situations like this, you might need to hurt someone’s feelings for the sake of your baby. If Grandma has a cold sore, Grandma doesn’t get to kiss the baby. Period.
There’s no need to put your baby in a Purell-filled bubble, but it’s important to be aware of the risks.
Image via Facebook/ Amy Stinton
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