First-time mom, Brogan Thomas, knew something was seriously wrong when she discovered a purple rash all over her one-year-old daughter’s body. “It looked like she’d been in a fire,” she told People Magazine.
Brogan was right to worry. Her daughter, Kaylah Merritt, was suffering from Eczema Herpeticum, an infection caused by the Herpes virus, and which can be fatal in children. She contracted it after a family member with a cold sore kissed her on the lips.
According to the National Eczema Association, Herpes is a virus that presents as a blistery, purple-red rash on the skin that can spread quickly. Other symptoms include high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and not feeling well. If left untreated, it can cause blindness, organ failure, and eventually death.
Kaylah spent 4 days in the hospital and a month later is still on daily medication.
The doctors told us that because babies’ immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight off the virus, Kaylah could’ve died if her condition had gone untreated much longer.
In an effort to raise awareness, Brogan posted her story on Facebook. It has garnered over 7000 comments and been shared over 32,000 times. She writes:
So I’ve just seen a post about how parents go over the top about people kissing the child on the lips and that it’s perfectly fine? Well I can tell you now that’s not the case. I’ve been there with my Kaylah when someone who’s had a coldsore has kissed her on the lips,one minute she was ok the next she wasn’t, numerous hospital admissions and scares and this was the result herpercitum!
She pleads with people (other than parents) not to kiss children on the lips.
While her daughter is recovering, Brogan told People Magazine that Kaylah still has a rash and continues to see a doctor weekly. She is also “still very uncomfortable, not sleeping as well as she normally does and really clingy to both me and her dad.” She will have to undergo a brain scan in May to check for any resultant brain damage from the virus.
“Please don’t kiss the baby,” is a common refrain said by parents everywhere. Unfortunately, it is often ignored or brushed aside as being overly protective. Most people don’t think it’s a big deal. IT’S A BIG DEAL. And the results can be deadly.
One simple kiss lead to a terrifying ordeal for Kaylah and her parents. One that they are all still trying to recover and move on from.
My twins spent the first few weeks of their lives in the NICU. I had to scrub my hands raw before I was allowed to touch them. Any sign of illness from a visitor was met with an immediate ban. Coughing? Runny nose? You were out. The nurses were relentless. Because they had to be. Lives depended on it. Literally.
As tempting as it is to pucker up and plant a smooch on that sweet baby’s lips, DON’T. Especially if he or she is not your own. And if you’re a stranger? Back that bus right up. Even if you don’t think you are sick, or contagious, or you aren’t showing any symptoms of a virus, you can still be a carrier. Give hugs, just hold the kisses please.