The mother of a newborn in the UK is taking to Facebook to warn how easy it is to expose babies to herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which is the kind typically transmitted orally, and what caused her own infant to be put on a drip in the hospital as her body fought the infection. The source? A well-meaning hospital visitor who didn't even have visible cold sores and kissed baby Brooke on the lips. "Before 3 months old a baby cannot fight the herpes virus," Claire Henderson writes. "If a baby contracts this it can cause liver and brain damage and lead to death. I know this sounds like I am scaremongering, but if my friend had not told me about this my baby girl could have been very seriously ill."
A doctor at the University of Pennsylvania tells CBS News that transmitting the virus this way is actually quite unusual, and that because "the contact person did not know they were having an outbreak of herpes ... there is virtually no way to prevent this rare event from happening." Still, one New York pediatrician tells Yahoo Parenting that parents can be proactive: "Limit the number of people who visit and handle your baby for the first few months, and remind them not to kiss the baby's face, especially on the lips." In 2008, a newborn with a cold sore died a week after symptoms disappeared, having been diagnosed with HSV-1, notes Cosmopolitan. As for Brooke, she was treated early, and "all her tests came back clear." (Here's another way babies are getting herpes.)