Monday, January 26, 2009

Cold Sores = The Kiss of Death

In PBL last week we learned about the kiss of death. Apparently, if you have a cold sore, you are a very serious risk to newborns.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus. The herpes virus has the ability to travel through nerves and infect the brain, which is called herpes encephalitis. This normally doesn't happen because healthy people have an immune system that is strong enough to prevent the virus from entering the brain. However, a newborn's immune system is still developing, which means that babies are extremely vulnerable to herpes encephalitis (among other things).

We were told the story of a resident who had a cold sore and kissed his 2 week old son. Within the next two weeks the baby had herpes encephalitis and died.

Many people carry a herpes infection; however, they are normally do not spread the infection because the virus is not actively replicating in their bodies. Cold sores are indicative of active, replicating herpes virus. Moral of the story, don't kiss a baby (or anyone really) if you have a cold sore.

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