Cold sores (fever blisters) are common and though they can be painful and annoying, they don't generally pose a danger to your health. They're caused by the herpes virus (herpes simplex virus type 1 or 2) which, once introduced to the body, will remain there for life. There is no cure for herpes but the blisters can be treated.
If you are prone to cold sores, you'll know how contagious they are. And yet, some well-meaning visitor to Claire Henderson and her newborn baby girl kissed little Brooke – on the mouth. At the time of the visit, Claire's friend didn't appear to have a fever blister, but cold sores are contagious at any stage of the outbreak, from the first tingling or burning sensation around the lips, to after the last scab disappears. Saliva also carries the virus.
When Brooke's lips and face broke out in blisters, Claire rushed her to the hospital. As fate would have it, just a few months prior Brooke's birth, Claire's friend shared with her an article highlighting the dangers that cold sores pose to a tiny baby. So she didn't take any chances, and a good thing it was too. Brooke was immediately tested for brain or liver damage, but thankfully all tests came back clear. She still had to spend 5 days on a drip.
Although it's very rare for a baby to contract neurological damage from herpes, Brooke's case has highlighted how important it is to warn all visitors to not kiss baby in the face, and if the well wisher suspects a cold sore outbreak at all, to please stay away for 2 weeks.
On 16 September Claire decided to raise awareness and warn her Facebook friends, but it quickly went viral and on 25 September, her post had already been shared nearly 38,000 times: