A Fort Worth mother whose 12-day-old daughter died after contracting HSV-1 saved the life of another Texas infant with a powerful post she shared on Facebook.
Herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV-1, is what caused the death of Emerson Trejo, Presley Trejo's only daughter.
Most commonly, HSV-1 causes sores around the mouth and lips, sometimes called fever blisters or cold sores.
In newborns, it can cause serve complications, or even death, if left untreated.[[505333961,R]]
Trejo said in the first few days at home after Emerson's birth, she began to show signs of loss of appetite and abnormal fatigue.
"She wouldn't cry in the middle of the night to eat. She was sleeping all through the night, all through the day. I was freaking out every single day," Trejo said.
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She told NBC 5 that she warned doctors that Emerson had a small spot inside her mouth, but Trejo claimed they told her not to worry.
On Emerson's 12th day of life, Trejo said she suffered a seizure. The Trejos returned to the hospital where doctors diagnosed the virus and said it had spread to the baby's organs, which were shutting down.
Emerson died that same day.
"It was traumatizing. Sickening. She never woke up again. She was gone," said Elias Trejo, Emerson's father.
The Trejos still don't know how Emerson contracted the virus.
"I am grateful that she got to be with us and that she died in my arms. I am grateful for that, but we would much rather have her here," Presley recalled.
Two months after Emerson's death, Presley shared her story on Facebook, including pictures of their final moments with Emerson.
"Everyone needs to know about this virus and what it does to children and their families! PEOPLE!!!! STOP KISSING BABIES THAT ARE NOT YOURS!!!!! WASH YOUR HANDS WHEN YOU ARE AROUND NEWBORNS!!!!!" Presley wrote.
Ashley Pool, of Bryan, Texas, was one of the more than 254,000 people (and counting) to have read Presley's story on Facebook.
"I cried. I cried because I just had a baby," Pool said.
One week after reading Trejo's post, she said she began to notice the symptoms of HSV-1 in her newborn. She rushed her daughter to the hospital, where doctors confirmed Pool's suspicion and started the baby on antivirals before the virus could spread.
"I would have never thought anything was wrong with her if I hadn't seen Presley's post. It saved Reagan's life and I'm eternally grateful for that," Pool said.
A few weeks later, Pool and Trejo were able to talk, via FaceTime.
"I just want to tell you thank you so much. I can't imagine how hard it is to share so soon after it happened," Pool told Trejo.
"I know for my husband and I, this is exactly what we wanted to do, whenever I posted this, so I'm just glad that I was able to help you and save a little baby," Trejo responded.
Trejo, now pregnant with twin girls, hopes more families become aware of the danger posted by HSV-1 to newborns.
"I'm so grateful for how her outcome turned out [with Ashley's daughter]. [It's] the outcome I would have wished for, for my daughter," Presley said.
About one of every 3,500 babies born in the United States, or less than one percent, contracts herpes simplex virus each year, according to the March of Dimes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, from 2015-2016, 47.8 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 14-49 carried HSV-1. The virus is a common, lifelong infection with often carries no symptoms. People with symptoms may have painful blisters or sores at the site of infection. The viruses are transmitted through contact with an infected person’s lesion, mucosal surface, or genital or oral secretions.