Parents of 13-day-old babies who died from the cold sore virus call for awareness

Sarah Higson and the son of James de Malplaquet, Kit (pictured), died from the virus, which can be transmitted with an innocent kiss or a touch from a relative or a nurse, with only 13 days to live.

An afflicted couple is campaigning to raise awareness about the potentially lethal dangers posed by common cold sore viruses for newborn babies.

The son of Sarah Higson and James of Malplaquet, Kit, died of the virus, which can be transmitted with an innocent kiss or a touch of a relative or a nurse, with only 13 days.

Now, in an attempt to bring hope for the tragedy, the couple has created the Kit Tarka Foundation, a charity to raise awareness about an infection that experts believe will claim the lives of at least 65 babies a year.

Kit was healthy when he was born at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton last September by emergency cesarean section at 39 weeks.

Sarah Higson and the son of James de Malplaquet, Kit (pictured), died from the virus, which can be transmitted with an innocent kiss or a touch from a relative or a nurse, with only 13 days to live.

Sarah Higson and the son of James de Malplaquet, Kit (pictured), died from the virus, which can be transmitted with an innocent kiss or a touch from a relative or a nurse, with only 13 days to live.

But a blood sugar problem led him to special care. The doctors suspected that it was a bacterial infection, so they administered antibiotics, but did not perform a viral infection test.

The young man recovered and was discharged, but the next day he was taken back to the hospital because he had jaundice.

Despite receiving more antibiotics, his condition worsened and he was transferred to the Evelina Children's Hospital in London, where doctors diagnosed infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV), the same virus that causes cold sores. By then, however, the infection had spread, causing sepsis and multiorgan failure, and Kit died the next day.

Charity worker Sarah, 37, had watched helplessly as doctors tried to save her young son.

She said: "I remember trying to resuscitate him, trying to bring him back by pumping his little body. That still torments me.

Pediatrician Patrick Davies of the NHS Trust at University Hospitals in Nottingham said that almost half of newborn babies who contract HSV die.

"It is a very dangerous infection, but the sooner you recognize and treat, the better," he said.

"If it is not detected, the babies suffer a multiorganic collapse, which is irretrievable."

Nearly nine out of ten cases of neonatal HSV mean that the baby is infected during delivery, because the mother has genital herpes.

Baby Kit (pictured) suffered a viral infection that caused sepsis and multiple organ failure

Baby Kit (pictured) suffered a viral infection that caused sepsis and multiple organ failure

Baby Kit (pictured) suffered a viral infection that caused sepsis and multiple organ failure

But Sarah tested negative for the virus and, since she had a cesarean section, she thinks it's very likely that Kit was infected by a nurse or a doctor who had a cold sore.

The evidence on infant deaths caused by HSV is scant.

In 1996, a national study concluded that it caused eight deaths a year, but a study by Dr. Davies in Nottinghamshire in 2014 based on the number of cases there suggested, the number of annual deaths across the country could be at least 65

The couple's foundation has raised £ 15,000 up to the cost of a new national study.

Nicola Ranger, general director of nursing at the hospitals of the University of Brighton and Sussex, NHS Trust, said: "HSV infection is very rare in babies and can often be very difficult to diagnose. Tarka Kit Foundation to raise the profile of neonatal HSV infection and absolutely support the mission and vision of the Foundation. "

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