• CMV Infection

    (Cytomegalovirus)

    Definition

    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus. It can cause swollen lymph glands, fever, and fatigue. Most people with CMV do not show symptoms of infection and are not aware they have it.
    CMV infection rarely causes health problems except for the following:
    • People with compromised immune systems
    • Babies in utero (not born yet)
    The Lymphatic Organs
    The Lymphatic Organs
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    A herpes virus causes CMV. The disease is passed by an exchange of body fluids with an infected person. You can be exposed through:
    • Kissing
    • Sexual intercourse
    • Breastfeeding
    • Changing the diaper of an infected infant
    The virus is found in:
    • Saliva
    • Tears
    • Blood
    • Urine
    • Semen
    • Stool
    • Vaginal fluids
    • Breast milk

    Risk Factors

    This virus is so common throughout the US. Everyone is considered at risk for CMV.
    People with the highest risk of acquiring this virus include:
      Children and childcare providers in day care and preschool
      • Due to frequent exposure to body fluids that carry the infection
      People with suppressed or impaired immune systems Babies in utero
      • Exposure can result in congenital CMV (congenital means the baby is born with the condition); about 1% of babies born in the US have congenital CMV

    Symptoms

    The virus often remains inactive in the body. There are often no symptoms. Sometimes, the virus is activated. Reactivation of the virus can happen if your immune system becomes impaired. This can happen because of medication or illness. In this case symptoms can occur.
    The symptoms are similar to mononucleosis , another herpes virus infection, and include:
    People with suppressed or impaired immune systems can also develop:
    Babies born with congenital CMV infection can have the following symptoms:
    • Jaundice (yellowed skin and eyes)
    • Skin rash or purple blotches on the skin
    • Low birth weight, small size
    • Large spleen
    • Large, poorly functioning liver
    • Pneumonia
    • Seizures
    Babies born with congenital CMV infections can develop the following problems:
    Infants who get a CMV infection after birth rarely have any symptoms or complications.

    Diagnosis

    CMV infection is not often diagnosed because the virus rarely produces symptoms. If CMV is suspected, it can be diagnosed by the following methods:
      Blood test to detect CMV antibodies
      • Antibodies are disease-fighting proteins in the blood
      Laboratory test of fluid samples
      • Not all laboratories are equipped to perform this test
      Amniocentesis for pregnant women
      • To check for signs of infection in the baby
    • Biopsy of the affected organ

    Treatment

    Most people infected with CMV will not need a specific treatment. Like other members of the herpes virus family, CMV remains in your body throughout your life.
    Antiviral drugs (eg, ganciclovir , valganciclovir ) may be used for people who:
    • Have had an organ transplant
    • Have a suppressed immune system (eg, AIDS)
    Babies born with CMV may be also be treated with ganciclovir.

    Prevention

    While there is no definitive way to prevent CMV, there are a some measures that can decrease the chance of contracting the infection:
    • Wash your hands frequently.
    • Properly dispose of diapers.
    • Do not share glasses or eating utensils.
    • Avoiding intimate contact with people known to have the CMV infection.
    • Practice safe sex.

    RESOURCES

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov/

    National Institutes of Health http://www.nih.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    HerpesGuide.ca http://www.herpesguide.ca/

    Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/

    References

    Cytomegalovirus. HealthLink Medical College of Wisconsin website. Available at: http://www.healthlink.mcw.edu . Accessed September 17, 2005.

    Cytomegalovirus. International Herpes Management Forum website. Available at: http://www.ihmf.org . Accessed September 17, 2005.

    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org . Accessed September 17, 2005.

    Cytomegalovirus infection (Cytomegalic Inclusion Disease). Merck & Co., Inc. website. Available at: http://www.merck.com . Accessed September 17, 2005.

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