JUL 19, 2017 3:14 PM PDT

Diagnosed: Baby Dies of Meningitis Contracted from a Kiss

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Parents of newborns should perhaps be more discriminate in who they allow to touch and kiss their babies. At least that’s one lesson that parents of an infant girl learned the hard way. Their baby was just a week old when she fatally contracted viral meningitis.

Image credit: Sifrit family

Mariana Sifrit was born a healthy baby on July 1, 2017. At just one-week, she was brought along to celebrate the wedding of her parents, Nicole and Shane Sifrit. But the wedding wasn’t even over when the new parents noticed something was wrong with their infant. Mariana was not eating and was not waking up, the parents reported to officials at the World Health Organization.

At the Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, doctors diagnosed Mariana with herpes meningitis HSV-1. Her condition worsened. "She had quit breathing, and all her organs just started to fail," Nicole Sifrit told WHO.

Both parents tested negative for the virus, and it is not known how the baby contracted the infection. Because an infected person may not necessarily have open sores on their mouths, it’s not inconceivable that an innocent kiss could have turned deadly for Mariana. "They touch her, and then she touches her mouth with her hand," Sifrit explained

Unfortunately, the infection led to severe complications and the baby tragically passed away at just three-weeks old.

"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," her mother, Nicole Sifrit, posted on her Facebook page. "She is now no longer suffering and is with the Lord."

"It is very common to catch the virus, but very rarely does it develop into meningitis," said Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician at Calabasas Pediatrics in California. "The first two months after a child is born are very critical, as a virus can rapidly spread and cause serious illness in newborns."

This is why doctors caution parents to be especially vigilant in the first few months of their baby’s life. In the same vein, people with compromised immune system are also advised to be more cautious to avoid infections.

In the case of Mariana, it may be futile to speculate on who gave her the infection. Rather, we should all learn from her story to prevent the same tragedy from happening to another family.

Additional source: CNN

About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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