After her baby girl caught herpes from a family member – and was in so much pain she could barely eat or drink – a mother has warned parents to be careful over who kisses their children.
Katie Taylor, 34, from Sunderland, first noticed a red spot on the chin of her 10-month-old daughter, Lily, earlier this year after returning home from a family gathering.
Taylor took Lily to see a doctor, who advised her to ‘keep an eye on it’ – but when she got home, it became more ‘sinister’.
At first, I thought the spot may have been related to teething but on the second day, it looked far more sinister. I returned to the doctors who recommended a soothing gel for her gums and said it was a viral infection, I thought it might be [hand,] foot and mouth.
After three days, Lily had ‘lots of spots’ around her mouth, and was in such an ill state Taylor took her straight to hospital. Doctors there told Taylor that Lily had herpes.
I couldn’t believe it, I have always wrapped Lily in cotton wool as I lost a baby before her and I didn’t want her to ever contract anything harmful.
After around four weeks, Lily made a full recovery – she’s recently turned one. Taylor, who has two other children, aged eight and 14, doesn’t know exactly how Lily contracted the virus, but believes it was from a relative who kissed her face.
Lily had been away with family the weekend before and I know some members suffer with cold sores. The germs are there before the cold sore which is why whoever kissed her was probably unaware until a few days after. It took a month for her skin to clear up and, although it wasn’t my fault, I felt embarrassed with her in public as people were looking at me like I had neglected her.
Herpes is particularly dangerous for babies because their immune systems aren’t developed enough to fight off the virus, meaning it could potentially spread to vital organs. For Lily, her mother said she was in so much pain ‘she was barely eating… I had to use a syringe to give her water, it was horrible seeing her in pain’.
For adults, herpes can have varying effects: some will have regular cold sores on their lips or eyes, whereas others may not see any symptoms at all. Outbreaks tend to clear up within around 10 days, and there’s a number of remedies which can help. Here’s the thing though: once you’ve contracted herpes, it stays in your body forever, something which has made Taylor feel very guilty.
She will be prone to cold sores for the rest of her life now which makes me feel awful as it wasn’t her fault.
Now that Lily is fighting fit, Taylor wants to raise awareness for other parents, and advises them to be ‘super cautious’ over who has contact with their children.
If Lily was a little younger, this could have killed her – she was so ill and it was heart-breaking to see as there was nothing I could do. It is hard to determine who did it, but I am now super cautious of who kisses her now as I would hate for this to happen again.
I felt like a bad parent even though it was out of my control. People should definitely think twice about kissing babies.
According the NHS, neonatal herpes – herpes caught by a newborn baby – affects just 1.65 babies per 100,000 born in the UK compared to 33 per 100,000 in the US.
For more information on neonatal herpes, you can visit the NHS website.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.