Can she get Herpes from Holding the Baby?

Dear Dr. Tom:

I know a lady who just gave birth to a little girl this week. They say she may have herpes. She has a lot of red pimples all over her. My sister-in-law touched the baby. She was not aware of the herpes. Can she get herpes from holding the baby? She said she did not wash her hands right away.

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Non-Handwasher’s Sister:

If the mother had herpes and gave birth during one of her outbreaks, the newborn could contract the infection by passage through the birth canal. However, not assuredly so. Infected mothers do not always pass the virus along, although the risk is present. Red pimples over the child’s entire body may be for some reason other than herpetic infection. Yes, if the pimples were active herpes lesions your sister-in-law might contract the virus. Hand-washing is an essential health protective step both before and after touching another.


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