For 11 days, everything was perfect for Lucy Kendall, her partner, Jaz Miller, and their newborn, Oliver Jaz Miller. Born August 3, Oliver was getting plenty to eat, sleeping like a champ and melting hearts with his smile. Then, something happened.
"He slowly stopped drinking milk throughout the night and started up with a temperature," Kendall wrote on Facebook.
The next day, the U.K. parents rushed him to the hospital, where "Oliver was put onto a heated bed with oxygen," she wrote. "He got a feeding tube put in, along with a long line and a number of cannulas.”
Kendall said she and Jaz watched their son "fight for his life in High Dependency Unit (HDU)" for eight straight days—until the doctor came in and told them that Oliver had caught neonatal herpes.
Shocked and horrified, Kendall and Jaz wondered how something like this could happen, especially since neither one of them had cold sores or carried the virus.
"The doctor began to explain the herpes simplex virus can be passed onto a newborn baby if a person has a cold sore and kisses the baby or touches the baby after touching the cold sore," she wrote.
She went on to say, "Cold sores are at their most contagious when they burst (rupture). They remain contagious until completely healed."
Oliver spent a total of 21 days in the hospital and was sent home with six months' worth of antibiotics, as well as a prescription for return visits to the hospital.
"Please respect (a) newborn baby and stay away if you have a cold sore," Kendall warned in her post. "We're the lucky ones! A few hours later, this could be reading so differently."
A few weeks later, Kendall updated her Facebook status, telling friends, family and complete strangers that Oliver was back home.
“Just want to say thank you for everyone's kind, loving words and everyone who shared my post about Oliver,” she wrote. “It was the most horrific thing, and I wouldn't want anyone else to go through what me, my partner and Oliver went through. Such a strong and beautiful little boy, safe and asleep at home.”
Although the couple considers themselves "lucky," Kendall told Hull Daily Mail that they want to warn others about how easily this potentially deadly "kiss of death" can be transferred to babies.
"Keep your newborns safe," she said. "One in three babies can die if they contract the virus" because their immune system isn't strong enough to fight off the infection.
If your baby stops feeding, has difficulty breathing or develops a skin rash or lesions, contact your pediatrician immediately as these are only a few of the symptoms to watch out for. It's also important to note that mothers can easily transfer the virus to their unborn child during labor. If you are pregnant and have been infected with the virus, be sure to tell your doctor as soon as possible.