Grieving dad pleads with parents to wash their hands

Baby Mallory died after contracting a very common and contagious strain of the herpes virus.
Baby Mallory died after contracting a very common and contagious strain of the herpes virus. Photo credit: Facebook/Jeff Gober

A US man grieving the tragic death of his newborn is warning other parents about the importance of washing their hands.

Jeff Gober from Phoenix wrote an emotional post on Facebook about his daughter Mallory, who died when she was just weeks old.

The baby contracted herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), a strain of the herpes virus, in her first few days of life. HSV-1 is extremely common, with approximately 67 percent of all humans infected with the virus, but it can be fatal for newborns.

Mr Gober says he and wife Natasha were confused by Mallory's diagnosis as she hadn't been in contact with anyone with cold sores, nor had she been kissed on the mouth.

"She had no symptoms beyond a high fever for most of the first week," he wrote in a February post, that has had a recent surge in attention.

"By the time the blisters showed up it was probably too late for the antivirals to be effective."

He now believes she contracted the extremely contagious HSV-1 by contact with her hands, which she apparently couldn't keep put of her eyes and mouth during her short life.

"She was constantly sucking on her fingers, so it's almost certain that the virus got onto her hands at some point."

An adorable but heartbreaking photo accompanying his post shows baby Mallory with her fingers in her mouth.

After she contracted the virus, Mallory's parents had to "watch her die slowly" over an agonising two weeks, as anti-viral medication couldn't save her by that point.

Mr Gober now wants to warn other parents of newborns about hygiene practices that could save their children's lives.

"If you have a new baby, or will be around a new baby, wash your hands. A lot. If anyone wants to hold your baby, make sure they wash their hands first. Then make them do it again.

"Please, if you're reading this, be extra diligent about washing your hands around newborns. Statistically speaking, you're probably infected with HSV-1 whether you know it or not."


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