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!