Newborn critically ill with meningitis, possibly spread by kiss

Newborn critically ill with meningitis, possibly spread by kiss
Posted at 7:18 AM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 04:46:12-04

(RNN) - A newborn is fighting for her life, her body racked with a potentially deadly form of meningitis that doctors say she could have contracted from a kiss.

Little Mariana Sifrit is in Iowa City University Hospital, and things aren't looking good, her mother Nicole Sifrit said in a Facebook post.

"My heart is crushed, my baby is declining fast! She has no brain activity and her lungs and heart are failing along with her kidneys and liver," she said. "They are running out of options for her."

Mariana was born July 1. Her parents married July 7, and it was then they noticed something wasn't right with their baby girl, they told WQAD.

She wasn't eating and wasn't waking up, so they left their wedding early to take her to the hospital in Des Moines.

There, they learned their baby girl was infected with meningitis HSV-1, caused by the herpes virus, the same virus that causes cold sores.

Both parents tested negative for the virus, so doctors say the newborn may have picked up the virus from someone who visited the baby.

Nicole Sifrit said the baby wasn't expected to live a day after they admitted her, but she's still fighting.

Last week, Mariana's condition worsened, and her organs began failing. She was airlifted to Iowa City University Hospital, where she is on life support.

The hope is that the baby's liver will be able to repair itself. Otherwise, the little girl won't make it.

If she is able to survive, doctors expect her to remain in the hospital for three to six months, CNN said, and she faces long-term health problems from the damage the virus has already done to her little body.

Many people carry HSV-1 without even knowing that they have it and thus spread in unwittingly, the Meningitis Research Foundation said

Though it is very common to catch the virus, it's rare that it develops into meningitis, Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician at Calabasas Pediatrics in California, told CNN.

Experts warn parents of newborns to be very careful in the baby's first months as a virus can rapidly spread and cause serious illness in newborns.

Make sure visitors wash their hands, and anyone who is contagious or has a rash should stay away, What To Expect said.

Small children, who carry loads of germs, should be told not to touch the baby's hands or face.

After an outing or a visit from company, parents should clean baby's hands.

Contact your doctor if your baby develops symptoms of the herpes simplex virus in the six weeks following birth, including a low-grade fever (100.4 degrees or more rectally), poor feeding, irritability and skin rash in the form of pimples or blisters, seizures or other similar symptoms, the New York State Health Department said.

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