[Question #802] HSV 1 and risk to my newborn

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93 months ago
Dear Dr,

I hope that you can help me with the below since I am panicking.

I just got diagnosed with HSV1 via a blood test. The test did not show as positive or negative but showes as "indeterminate" I am so scared, what does that even mean? Do I have it or not? I've been married for more than 7 years and I have never ever cheated on my wife (her results are negative BTW).

The reason of my scare is that I have a 5 month old baby and I am terrified that I could pass this terrible disease to him and For the pas few days I have been avoiding to kiss him and carry him and speaking xlosely to him and of course bathing him.

To my recollection I've never had a cold sore but since diagnosed I think I might have one, not sure though since it is just like a redish patch in my upper lip without pain or it does not look like a blister filled with water. I've bbeen reading some terrible stories on line of newborns dying because of a kiss from their parents. Please, any prompt help will be much much much appreciated the anxiety is killing me.

Thank you.
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Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
93 months ago
First, let me state that aren't positive for HSV 1.  The indeterminate result means that you may or may not be infected, the test was unable to sort that out. HSV 1 causes recurrent cold sores on the lip or in the nose and is sometimes genital.  But given that you've not had any new exposures in the past several years, I would bet a lot of money that you are NOT infected, but we can't know that with 100% certainty at this time.  Let me be clear - you've also not kissed anyone new in the recent past?  You should be aware that more than half the population of the US has HSV 1 infection - incredibly common and most often not an issue, even with babies.  Do NOT avoid kissing your baby unless you think you actually do have a cold sore (this doesn't sound like one to me but it could be) and definitely do not avoid carrying or speaking closely to him or bathing him even if you had a red patch on your lip!  The main risk to babies if acquiring HSV 1 from an adult when they are very tiny - at 5 months, it wouldn't be great if he got HSV 1 but less likely to be serious issues than if he was a few weeks old.  In your case, I think it would be very important to get this result clarified since it is really worrying you.  The herpes western blot  is the confirmatory test for herpes simplex viruses type 1 and 2.  It isn't easy to get  but in your situation, it might be best to make the effort to get it.  You can do it through our clinic through a research study we are doing, www.westoverheights.com, see the "get a western blot" tab, or you can contact with the University of Washington directly to have a blood draw kit sent to your own doctor.  Normally, I might not recommend this confirmatory test, but in your situation, I can see that you are very worried about this.  Please let me know what other questions you might have.