Around 1 in 3,500 infants are affected by herpes in America. Known as neonatal herpes, this disease is relatively rare but very dangerous if developed.
It stems from a virus called herpes simplex, and it can lead to severe issues in babies.
These issues include eye inflammation (that could lead to sight loss), seizures, and even a variety of brain infections.
Some babies do develop herpes before birth. However, they can also be infected if kissed by people who have a cold sore.
Yes, believe it or not, cold sores are a sign of herpes – and 70% of people will contract the virus in their lifetimes, but they go away on their own and are in no way harmful.
For babies, though, the virus is deadly.
Brogan Thomas, a 22-year-old mother, was surprised to see her one-year-old daughter Kaylah-May Merritt acting oddly back in December.
Kaylah-May seemed to be very tired for many days in a row.
Then, when Brogan was changing the young girl’s clothes, she noticed that her body was covered in reddish and purple marks.
When she was placed in her usual bath, Kaylah-May began to scream in a very unusual and worrying way.
Brogan decided to bring her daughter to the emergency room, where doctors revealed that Kaylah-May had contracted neonatal herpes.
But both Brogan and her spouse tested negative for the disease, meaning they had not been the ones to infect her.
As such, it was likely that the baby had gotten infected from a kiss on the lips by someone else who had a cold sore.
Sadly, Brogan couldn’t for the life of her figure out who could have passed the disease to her daughter.
Besides, cold sores are relatively common in adults and typically go away within 10 days on their own.
Unfortunately, they are extremely contagious. Passing them on to other adults doesn’t cause more than mild discomfort, but for babies, it’s a dangerous mistake.
This is because the immune system of a baby is not strong enough to fight the virus.
If Brogan had not taken her baby to the hospital when she did, the poor girl could have died.
Kaylah-May had to be kept in the hospital for four days, and following those difficult hours, doctors would need to regularly visit her home to check on her and provide necessary injections.
Once recovered sufficiently, Brogan will need to bring her to the hospital every week for further injections, and Kaylah-May will need a brain scan in three months to ensure she does not suffer any damage there.
Tragically, this one mistake will stick with little Kaylah-May for her entire life.
There is no cure for neonatal herpes, and she will have to learn to manage the symptoms for as long as she lives.
So far, she’s slowly recovering, and will likely need intravenous antiviral medication to treat it.
The marks on her body haven’t faded yet, and she’s very uncomfortable and has difficulty sleeping.
It’s stressful for the whole family, but things are looking up and hopefully Kaylah-May will make it out of the woods.