One mother’s worst nightmare ended up being a life-saving moment for someone else.
In a heartbreaking post on Facebook in October 2018, Presley Trejo of Texas shared her story about losing her 12-day-old daughter Emerson to the HSV-1 virus.
“It’s the herpes simplex virus most commonly known as the cold sore virus,” she wrote on the social media site. “For adults it’s not a big deal. But for infants with little to no immune system, it’s fatal.”
If an adult has the virus in their system (often, they may not even know) and kiss an newborn, it can spread quickly.
Trejo said it happened so fast, she didn’t even know Emerson was sick. She noticed her child wasn’t eating normally, sleeping well and was tired. Emerson also had a small spot inside her mouth (she was told by doctors it wasn’t serious), NBC 5 reported.
Credit: Presley Trejo/Facebook
“When we arrive[d] to the hospital, her liver was completely gone. Her kidneys were right behind. Everything was failing. She was having multiple seizures until she was brain dead. Her heart stopped beating and the only thing that kept her alive were machines,” she continued.
“My daughter, my own flesh and blood who I created out of love, was on life support and I had to be the one to pull the plug on her life.”
Trejo lost her daughter last fall and wants her story to be a reminder for parents to always take symptoms seriously.
“A mother should never ever have to bury their child. The virus took her at just 12 days old and we watched her die a very slow death. And now I have a lifetime without her.”
Credit: Presley Trejo/Facebook
Ashley Pool, another mom in Texas, read Trejo’s post a week after it was published. Recently speaking to NBC 5, she began to notice symptoms Trejo posted on Facebook and took her daughter to the hospital right away.
“I cried. I cried because I just had a baby,” Pool told the broadcaster. Her hunch was correct — her daughter also had developed HSV-1 and fortunately, doctors were able to start the baby on antivirals before it spread.
“I would have never thought anything was wrong with her if I hadn’t seen Presley’s post. It saved Reagan’s life and I’m eternally grateful for that,” Pool continued.
The mothers ended up talking over FaceTime weeks later.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a clinical researcher at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, told Global News that when it comes to the herpes simplex virus, there are two types. HSV-1 is traditionally associated with cold sores on the mouth, but can also affect the genitalia or cause ulcers.
HSV-2 is traditionally more likely to cause lesions on the penis, vagina or anus. “Now this doesn’t mean you can’t get it on the mouth,” Bagoch said, adding the virus isn’t just spread through sexual contact. The virus can spread through casual contact or even sharing straws.
In adults, these viruses are obnoxious, he said, but rarely do they manifest into something deadly.
“These are very common infections in adults, and again, most of the time people may have the virus and it’s dormant and it doesn’t cause issues.”
Once in a while, however, there can be an eruption, he added, which can result in cold sores. However, medications can quickly make the cold sore go away. “But once you have the virus, you have it. It’s there for life. It can lie dormant inside your body and it can come back at different times.”
Often, adults see symptoms if they are stressed or have an impairment to their immune systems.
While Bagoch recognizes this is a tragic case, for a child to die from one of these viruses is still considered rare. “Given the high prevalence of herpes viruses in the general community, we’re not seeing kids dying and becoming extremely ill from this infection with a high degree,” he said.
Rare or not, it is still a reminder for parents and Canadians in general to be cautious, especially those who carry the virus.
Avoid close interaction with newborns, like kissing, and always wash your hands before interacting with infants.
Global News has reached out to Trejo and at press time has not received a response.
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