Poulton toddler struck down with potentially deadly virus - by a KISS
A Poulton toddler was struck down with a potentially deadly virus that left him screaming in pain – all because of a kiss.
When little Laaston Ogden woke up with spots on his legs, his mum Louise thought he was coming down with chicken pox.
Little did she know, the 14-month-old had been infected with herpes, which can spread to babies when they are kissed by people who have the virus, even if they have no visible symptoms such as a cold sore.
He broke out in severe rashes all over his body, and had to be taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he is currently being treated with antibiotics.
Louise, 36, of Mains Lane in Poulton, said: “It all started on Sunday, with two little spots at the back of his leg while I was changing his nappy. I thought it was chicken pox.”
She called the 111 non-emergency number, but said she did not get a call back until 1am when the family was sleeping.
“I got up around 6am and it was ten times worse,” she said. “It looked like somebody had tipped a kettle over his legs and bum. I had never seen anything like it.”
She took Laaston to Newton Drive Health Centre, Blackpool, where she said she was told her son was probably suffering from infected chicken pox.
She said: “Single spots were coming out then, not big clusters. The doctor gave him some antibiotics but he wouldn’t take them. He was just being sick.”
The following day, Laaston’s condition worsened, with painful sores covering his legs and face. Louise returned to her GP practice, and they were referred to the Victoria Hospital’s children’s assessment ward, where tests revealed the cause of Laaston’s agony.
The herpes virus is normally harmless, and many adults live with it without knowing they are infected, but for babies it can be extremely dangerous.
Symptoms can include a fever, sore throat, blisters, and even seizures, and it can be fatal if it spreads to other organs.
Louise, a mum-of-six who works as a carer, said: “I didn’t realise how serious it was until I read more about it. The virus can attack the brain.
“But because he was put on IV straight away, it has not been too bad. The antibiotics saved him. If the doctor hadn’t sent us up to the hospital it could have been a very different story.
“You wouldn’t think that this is what a kiss can do.
“He has been in unbelievable pain. He has been constantly screaming. He can’t eat. He can’t move his legs.”
Louise said she was told by doctors that Laaston’s herpes were probably caused by coming into contact with somebody with a cold sore, but she still has no idea who it came from as neither she nor any of her family had any visible symptoms of the virus.
“It could have been anyone. The doctors asked me if I had had a cold sore and I’ve never had one, but I could still be carrying the virus,” she said.
“All the staff at the hospital have been brilliant. It’s down to them that he got the antibiotics so quickly. It was hard work to get a cannula in because of his skin and his little veins, but they did it.
“Looking at his skin, it could take him months to get better.
“I want people to know how dangerous it can be. It’s not something you expect. I will never give my baby a kiss on the lips again, and I won’t let anybody else do it. I definitely don’t want to go through this again.”
Dr Benjamin Butler-Reid, of Highfield Surgery, Blackpool, said: “Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and it is easy to spread by skin contact. In adults, it rarely causes serious disease and can be managed by a cream or patches that your pharmacist can provide. Some groups are more vulnerable to the virus, such as pregnant women, immunosuppressed patients and babies.
“If babies are exposed, they can contract a form called neonatal herpes. This will sometimes only affect the eyes, mouth or skin and your baby will, in most cases, make a full recovery.
“However, if the condition spreads to the organs it can be very serious indeed and causes death in roughly a third of cases. The condition can be passed on if a person with a cold sore kisses a baby or if the mother breast-feeds with herpes sores on her breast, this is why is it vitally important to take preventative steps to reduce the chance of your baby contracting herpes.
“If you have a cold sore or have a history of herpes do not kiss any babies, make sure you wash your hands before contact with a baby and wash your hands before breastfeeding and cover up any cold sores to avoid accidentally touching your mouth and then breast.”
Symptoms of neonatal herpes include lethargy, irritability, your baby not feeding, high temperature or a rash on the skin, eye and inside the mouth. If your baby has these symptoms, contact your GP or call 111 for advice.