Newborn dies days after kiss transmits viral meningitis

IOWA CITY, Iowa (WHDH) – A newborn baby who contracted viral meningitis from a kiss has died.

Nicole Sifrit made the heartbreaking announcement on Facebook saying: “Our princess Mariana Reese Sifrit gained her angel wings at 8:41 am this morning in her daddy’s arms and her mommy right beside her.”

Nicole gave birth to her daughter Mariana on July 1, and married her husband Shane on July 7. Only a couple hours after saying “I do,” the newlyweds noticed their child had stopped eating.

“Friday, we noticed she stopped eating and wasn’t waking up when we were trying to get her to respond,” Shane said.

The couple cut their celebration short and headed to a Des Moines children’s hospital where the couple learned Mariana had contracted a deadly virus called Meningitis HSV-1, caused by herpes. Doctors said she likely got it from a kiss, but not necessarily an open sore, from someone carrying the cold sore virus.

“They touch her, and then she touches her mouth with her hand,” said the child’s mother.

Mariana’s parents tested negative for the virus. Doctors believe a wedding guest had transmitted the virus to the baby.

The newborn was taken to a neonatal intensive care unit where her condition worsened. She had stopped breathing and her organs were beginning to fail, according to Mariana’s parents.

The following week, Mariana’s health deteriorated even further, and she was airlifted from Des Moines to the Iowa City Children’s Hospital so doctors could monitor her more closely.

Her organs gave out days later.

“I always thought this stuff happens, and it’s a shame and never thought it would happen to me and was not prepared at all,” said Mariana’s father.

Shane and Nicole are warning other parents to protect their children.

“Keep your babies isolated, don’t let just anyone come visit them, and make sure they are constantly washing their hands,” said Nicole. “Don’t let people kiss your baby, and make sure they ask before they pick up your baby.”

Many people carry the herpes virus without ever showing any signs or symptoms, according to the Meningitis Research Foundation.

GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with the baby’s medical and funeral expenses.

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