DES MOINES, IA (KWWL/CNN) – A mother is putting out a stern warning after her baby contracted herpes through, she believes, contact with the virus in someone who held him.
Baby Juliano was starting to get red sores in and around his mouth last week. He was in terrible pain, and doctors initially told Juliano’s mother the 1-year-old likely had the flu or a bad case of hand, foot and mouth disease.
But it got worse.
"He had blisters growing outside of his mouth,” mother Samantha Rodgers said. "His sores were growing onto his hands and his neck and his stomach."
After three hospital visits and multiple tests, Rodgers learned her son had cold sores, caused by herpes.
"They swabbed his mouth and tested it, and it came back as he has herpes," she said.
Cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus, are highly contagious and can be spread by saliva, skin and touching things that are contaminated with the virus, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Pretty much this person gave my baby herpes – not intentionally,” Rodgers said.
The mother says she’s not completely sure who gave her baby the virus.
"All I can say is just be cautious. It can be anybody – your best friend, your sister, your brother or your mom. Everybody needs to wash their hands, sanitize. If you see a cold sore or anything on them, just don't let them come by your baby,” Rodgers said.
Juliano is now doing better, but he will carry this burden for the rest of his life.
"It sucks because this is a lifelong problem now. Every time he runs a fever, every time he's sick, he can have an outbreak. I don't know how to handle this. I am trying to do the best, but it's sad. It breaks my heart, and I can't do anything to help him,” Rodgers said.
The mother says Juliano should be going home soon to finish treatment. The next goal is to get the baby to eat something, which Rodgers says he hasn’t done since last week.
Symptoms from herpes, like a fever or blisters, can start two to 12 days after exposure, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Copyright 2017 KWWL, Samantha Rodgers via CNN. All rights reserved.