Mariana Sifrit, the newborn that contracted viral meningitis at just six days of life, has passed away on 18 July. Her mother took to social media to inform the general public who have been following this story.

Mariana’s parents, Nicole and Shane Sifrit, have both tested negative for the virus. The parents claim that Mariana caught the potentially deadly virus – HSV-1 – from a kiss.

HSV-1 is the same herpes virus, which commonly causes cold sores in infected individuals. Very rarely does it lead to full-blown meningitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.

Mariana’s condition quickly deteriorated

Mariana was born on 1 July and her ecstatic parents prepared for their nuptials a week after. Two hours into the ceremony, the events quickly turned sour. The baby’s parents recalled noticing the baby “stopped eating and wasn't waking up when we were trying to get her to respond.”

The newlyweds rushed Mariana to Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, where they were told that she had contracted meningitis HSV-1. Nicole and Shane learnt that an infected individual could spread the virus even though they might not have an open sore.

“It immediately went downhill from there. Within two hours, she had quit breathing and all of her organs just started to fail,” expressed Shane, recalling the tragic incident. Mariana had spent her last week of life at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital in Iowa City, suffering from severe medical complications. She lost her battle with the fatal illness at merely 18 days of life.

Posting on her social media page, Nicole wrote, “Our princess Mariana Reese Sifrit gained her angel wings at 8:41 am this morning in her daddy's arms and her mommy right beside her. She is now no longer suffering and is with the Lord.”

The Sifrit family advises parents about prioritising their babies health

Nicole told news centre, WHO-TV, that she could not pinpoint exactly how Mariana caught the virus. Dr Tanya Altmann, a paediatrician at Calabasas Paediatrics in California explained, “It is very common to catch the virus, but very rarely does it develop into meningitis. The first two months after a child is born are very critical – as a virus can rapidly spread and cause serious illness in newborns,” explained Dr Altmann.

In reference to the CDC, babies less than 1 month old and individuals with weakened immune systems are more prone to developing severe illness when diagnosed with viral meningitis. This agency advises parents to be particularly cautious during the first months of a baby's life.

The Sifrit family hopes their tragic events can save others. “I always thought this stuff happens and it's a shame and never thought it would happen to me. I was not prepared at all,” said Shane. Nicole added, “Keep your babies isolated. Don't let just anyone come visit them. Make sure they are constantly washing their hands. Don't let people kiss your baby, and make sure they ask before they pick up your baby.”

The devastated parents posted on their social media page, “Thank you to everyone who has followed her journey and supported us through this. In her 18 days of life she made a huge impact on the world and we hope with Mariana's story, we save numerous newborns lives. R.I.P. sweet angel.” MIMS

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