"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," Nicole Sifrit wrote

By Jason Duaine Hahn
July 19, 2017 10:29 AM


A 3-week-old baby girl died on Tuesday after contracting viral meningitis, and her parents are warning families to monitor their newborns because they believe the disease may have been contracted from something as simple as a kiss.

“Keep your babies isolated,” warns the infant’s mother, Nicole Sifrit, of Des Moines, Iowa. “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.”

Nicole and her husband, Shane Sifrit, welcomed their daughter Mariana into the world on July 1, just a week before they were set to be married. Then, on the day of their wedding and just two hours after the couple traded vows, Mariana stopped breathing.

According to WHO-HD in Des Moines, the couple rushed to Blank Children’s Hospital, where doctors told them that little Mariana had contracted Meningitis HSV1, the same herpes virus that causes cold sores. Though it’s rare, HSV1 can lead to viral meningitis that causes the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. This, in combination with a newborn’s weakened immune system, can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Both parents tested negative for the virus, and doctors concluded that it was likely passed on by someone with the cold sore virus who had come into contact with Mariana. Nicole says that a person infected with the virus likely touched Mariana’s hand, which she then put into her mouth.

Last week Mariana was taken to Iowa City to the University of Iowa Hospital, where a large team of doctors monitored her. On Sunday, Nicole posted on Facebook that her daughter’s life depended on her liver repairing itself. But the baby’s health worsened. As the family fought to hold onto hope, Nicole shared Mariana’s story with media outlets to warn new parents about the dangers of human contact with newborns. “It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how she caught the virus,” she told WHO-HD. “But it’s important people are cautious when they let anyone handle their babies.”

On Monday, Mariana had no brain activity and her lungs, heart, kidney, and liver were failing. On Tuesday morning, Nicole announced that Mariana had died in a devastating update on Facebook. “Our princess Mariana Reese Sifrit gained her angels wings at 8:41 a.m. this morning in her daddy’s arms and her mommy right beside her,” the announcement read. Mariana was only 18 days old. 

“Thank you to everyone who has followed her journey and supported us through this,” Nicole continued in her Facebook post. “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 life. R.I.P. sweet angel.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family and has since raised more than $10,000.

Guidelines to keep newborns safe from infections include washing hands before handling the baby, avoiding direct contact with people who have symptoms of an infection and ensuring all caregivers have received vaccinations.