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Oral Herpes and Newborns- Nervous&Pregnant PLEASE ADVISE

Hello All,

I am very new here, and this is my first post. It is not allowing me to post in any of the "Ask a Doctor" forums, so I will try here. This is going to be a little long and complicated, but I am very distraught over it, and I am seeing answers.

I am currently 32 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child (in three years- all close in age).  Recently, someone sent me an article in regard to newborn dying from neonatal herpes infections acquired due to a kiss from a family member with cold sores. This immediately hit home with me for two reasons, aside from the obvious: 1. I was shocked I had ever heard of this. I am a nervous wreck during pregnancy, and I have extensively researched almost everything that could go wrong during pregnancy or shortly thereafter (scholarly journal articles, and I am the daughter of a Registered Nurse- I have always been a rather informed lay person). 2. I have been getting very frequent cold sore outbreaks (for the last 6-7 years now), at least once every 3 weeks (more so when I am stressed or very hormonal- sometimes back to back infections, they are awful!).

So, alarmed, I turned to research, and also spoke to my OB, my kid's pediatrician, and a dermatologist. Here is part of what I have learned: Since I have a long established infection with (more than likely) HSV 1, I have a smaller viral load than someone with a primary infection. I have passed these antibodies against HSV 1 to my fetus through the placenta, and this offers some protection from this form of the virus to my newborn.  Also, I am probably less apt to shed the virus symptomatically or at least, do so less frequently.   My two other children where most likely protected from me and my frequent outbreaks as newborns (when I kissed their little faces all the time, because I had no idea about this), because I passed some immunity to them.  neither of my children (now aged almost 3 and 20 months) nor my husband (been with him 10 1/2 years) have ever caught it from me (or at least, they have never had an outbreak).

So, after this, I was put somewhat at ease. That is, until yesterday, when my father told me he had a cold sore. I have never seen my dad with a cold sore before. He said he "can't remember" if he had ever had one in his life, but "maybe" or "probably" (my family and friends know how high my anxiety is during pregnancy, and so they often omit or bend the truth so as not to make me upset. I resent this, but I digress...). My mother, who has been with him since their teenage years, said he has never had one before. This is likely a true primary infection- high viral load, and more asymptomatic shedding of the virus for the next 12 months!

The night before I knew, I noticed he was sharing food from my bowl (an oversight on both our parts- didn't think much of it, bc he wasn't sick, but I do NOT usually allow that when I am pregnant), and herpes can be spread through saliva. In addition, he used my laptop, and I used it immediately after him (I am a nail biter- I do it without even noticing.  I don't know if he touched his lip prior, but he certainly touched it after, running his fingers over his lips, saying they are very chapped).

So, here are all of my questions and concerns:
1. IF this is a true primary infection, and he has a high viral load, is it likely that I can be re-infected with HSV 1, if I already have antibodies against this? If it is likely, how dangerous is that to my baby after birth?
2. How likely is it that his is an HSV 2 infection, which can cause a non-primary first episode of HSV 2 too late in pregnancy for me to convert, build antibodies, and pass them to my fetus?
3. If he has an oral HSV 2 infection, and I contracted it, do my antibodies against HSV 1 offer me some protection?
4. How at risk is my baby if I contract oral HSV 2 as a non primary first episode after the birth?
5. Do the antibodies (HSV 1) I have passed on to my baby offer some protection from oral HSV 2 if he were to come into contact with it, either from me or someone else?
6. If I did contract a recent non-primary first episode of HSV 2, will my viral load be as high as a primary first episode, and how likely is it that I will shed the virus symptomatically and pass it to my baby, which can be deadly?
7. My dad is saying that "now" he doesn't think it's a cold sore, but a "cracked lip". I don't think so. What do you think: When I saw it, it was a round scab on his upper right lip, like a healing cold sore.  He said it started a day or two prior, when his lips were very chapped, and that part "spilt and bled". The scab has been there for a few days. He said he did not have any weeping, swelling, bumps, pus, or redness, and only pain during the initial split. I'll tell ya, though, it sure does look like a cold sore scab to me... and it is still there.

I am a nervous wreck about this. I am heartbroken at the thought of not being able to kiss my baby for weeks or months after he is born, for fear of passing on this deadly virus!  Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated!
9 Responses
3149845 tn?1506627771
If you have any other questions i will be back here tomm est time zone.
3149845 tn?1506627771
1. no you cannot be reinfected, there is no such thing as being reinfected.
2. have him take a blood test instead of wondering but oral hsv2 is rare as prefers the genital area.
3. no but have him take a test as what ifs are endless in questions.
4. Oral hsv1 or 2 is not a risk for giving birth. only genital is
5. for hsv1 yes, again have him test but having hsv oral is rare and almost never sheds. ALL MOST NEVER SHEDS!!!! so only having a sore at the time would be a concern.
6. Hsv2 rarely sheds like less than 1% of the time. Oral hsv2 is not an issue but have him test to confirm.
7. Have him take a herpes blood test,
Dave
Avatar universal
I posted a reply to you, but I don't see it here, so I am commenting again. Thank you very much for your response and answers to my questions! I appreciate it.  I do know that oral HSV 1 is not a risk for vaginal birth. I am only concerned with transmission after birth, through my kissing the baby's face, or through others kissing the baby's face,or touching the baby's hands after touching his/her mouth area. I will make sure I ask visitors not to kiss or touch the baby's face, or even touch his hands.  A smaller percentage of neonatal herpes is due to oral type one- usually when relatives kiss the baby's face. This is what I am scared of. :(

Also, I will ask my father to get a blood test, but I am not sure he will comply.  If this is a true primary infection, does he need more time to seroconvert? How long should he wait to have his blood work done, so as not to produce a false negative?
3149845 tn?1506627771
You need to have a herpes blood test anyway since your pregnant and also the father of the baby will need to have one also if your sexually active with him.
If you do have hsv1 oral, the risk of kissing your baby would be when you have and active cold sore as shedding only occurs an average of 9-18% of the time.

Herpes is not on your hands so you can touch the baby
3149845 tn?1506627771
Im a bit confused about your father. Why do you think he just contraced herpes? Testing times would be 3 months post any exposure but you should test now anyway.
Avatar universal
Thank you again for your response. It is appreciated. This is my third child, and I believe I have been tested prior. I  have never had gcenital herpes, although rutine prenatal testing is done at the office closer to full term. I  will find out about blood testing at my appointmeny friday. I don't believe it is of need for my husband to get tested- we have been monogamous for nearly 11 years, married for 4 1/2, and have two other children. My husbanf has never had a cold sore, even though I get them so frequently. I  am worried about my dad's outbreak only because it is a primary episode- he has never had a cold sore before in his life. That would mean his viral load is high, and asymptomatic shedding is more frequent for 12 months. I also don't know if I should just assume his cold sore is due to HSV 1. My only real fear is that he somehow picked up HSV 2. HE also kissed my two other children hello and goodbye while he had this sore, and my kids have never had a cold sore. They are very young (both inder three), and if they have now contracted oral herpes from him, i am afraid of them also inadvertently passing it to my newborn, through touching him or kissing him (which I won't allow, but these things happen with three kids around). I know herpes is not on the hands, but if my children or I were to accidentally touch the infected area and then touch the baby's face, it could be passed. And I don't trust visitors to be as viligent as i would be.
Avatar universal
Excuse the typos... typing on phone. I hope that clarifies my concerns. Thank you for the help. I appreciate it! I will have everyone get tested asap anyway, just to see. Perhaps my father was exposed many years ago, but this is his first outbreak? Could it lay dormant that long? Maybe he had other, very mild outbreaks... that he mistook for a cut lip?
Avatar universal
Excuse the typos... typing on phone. I hope that clarifies my concerns. Thank you for the help. I appreciate it! I will have everyone get tested asap anyway, just to see. Perhaps my father was exposed many years ago, but this is his first outbreak? Could it lay dormant that long? Maybe he had other, very mild outbreaks... that he mistook for a cut lip?
3149845 tn?1506627771
If your father has a herpes cold sore it would be hsv1 not 2. Hsv2 is not common and for him to just contract it he would have to recently had oral sex with a person who is having a genital sore at the time. So if your father is not that type of person then please put your concern that he has hsv2 oral aside.

If your father just contracted herpes his viral load would be low, only those with long term herpes have a high viral load.
I think that article has got you in a tizzy. This is all very simple. You have a blood test, your husband and father have a blood test for the babies protection.
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