By Aliki Kraterou and Jasmine Kazlauskas
A traumatised mum has issued a warning after her baby daughter almost died from a kiss on the lips.
One-year-old Kaylah Merritt was hospitalised for four days last month after an unknown family member kissed her on the lips while they had a cold sore.
The tot quickly developed an ‘awful’ purple rash all over her body and after crying in pain was rushed to Darlington Memorial Hospital for emergency treatment by concerned parents Brogan Thomas and Connor Merritt, both 22.
Kaylah, from Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham, was diagnosed with ‘Eczema Herpeticum’, a viral infection caused by the herpes virus, and needed two rounds of antibiotics and several different creams to soothe her skin.
Her parents are now urging adults to be aware of the risks kissing a baby on the mouth can bring after doctors said the tot’s experience could have been fatal.
Stay-at-home mum-of-one Brogan said: “Kaylah was crying so hard, I knew it could only mean she was in pain.
“We were at home and I was about to put her in the bath when I suddenly saw all the marks on her legs.
“It was an awful nightmare, there were purple rashes everywhere and Kaylah was sobbing her heart out.
“I was terrified, my first thought was it had something to do with meningitis because she had it before.
“My fiancée was petrified, but he kept me calm and made sure Kaylah was calm too.
“I instantly knew we had to take her to the hospital.
“The doctors told us that someone with a cold sore must have kissed her on the lips and because babies’ immune systems are not strong enough, she developed the rash.
“When the doctors told me how dangerous it was I cried and cried thinking how I could have lost her due to a silly kiss.
“Connor was shocked and couldn’t believe all this was down to a kiss too.
“If we hadn’t gone to the hospital quickly, it could have been very dangerous, we could have lost her.
“I was so relieved when Kaylah was out of danger.”
Kaylah previously survived meningitis and needed a lumbar puncture to survive.
This time, doctors told her parents the Eczema Herpeticum could have been very dangerous so it was lucky she was brought into hospital when she was.
Kaylah was able to go back home after four days on a ward but her parents said she still hasn’t fully recovered.
Even a month later, she still needs to take daily medication until the virus is gone and must attend doctor’s appointments on a weekly basis.
Brogan said: “I am over the moon Kaylah’s home now and enjoying herself with her toys and extra cuddles.
“I just want other parents to know, you don’t have to be a physically ill to harm a baby – you can just be a carrier of the virus and still affect them.”
FACT BOX: WHAT IS ECZEMA HERPETICUM?
Eczema herpeticum is an infection usually caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus, which is usually responsible for the appearance of cold sores on the mouth or other parts of the body.
People with atopic dermatitis and other skin diseases are more prone to getting infected, and the condition is more common among infants and young children.
Symptoms include blisters, high fever and swollen lymph glands and can be proven deadly in some cases.