Cytomegalovirus Explained, or CMV, is one of the most common viruses that affect people all over the world, but it often goes undiagnosed. Cytomegalovirus can be transmitted through any form of contact, including sexual intercourse and mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy. If you’re concerned about your chances of contracting CMV or if you have contracted it already, it’s important to know how to recognize symptoms and manage its effects on your body so that you can make the most of the life you have left in front of you.
What is CMV?
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a viral infection that affects almost 50% of Americans by age 40, and virtually all people in their lifetime.
Although CMV is relatively harmless in young children, it can be dangerous for those with compromised immune systems.
That’s why it’s important to understand how CMV works—and how you can avoid getting infected.
What is Cytomegalovirus? CMV is a viral infection that spreads via bodily fluids, such as saliva and blood. Once you contract CMV, it stays in your body for life. Most people don’t experience any side effects from it—though it can cause symptoms in those with weakened immune systems.
For most healthy adults, CMV is usually a mild illness similar to a cold or flu.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a member of Herpesviridae, which is a family of DNA viruses. It shares many similarities with the Varicella-Zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles. CMV primarily infects hematopoietic cells (leukocytes), including monocytes/macrophages, T lymphocytes, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells.
Statistics and Incidences
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that causes most cases of the viral congenital syndrome, or CMV disease. Most babies who become infected with CMV during pregnancy will experience little to no symptoms and show no ill effects after birth.
In fact, up to 50 percent of children infected with CMV in utero—and as many as 20 percent of adults exposed to CMV—will carry antibodies against it for life without showing any symptoms at all.
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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that attacks parts of your body, such as your liver and spleen. Your immune system can usually fight off CMV without any treatment, but sometimes it’s not strong enough.
If that happens, CMV can lead to problems with your organs and other parts of your body. This may eventually lead to problems with bodily functions you need to stay alive.
In some cases, cytomegalovirus infection may cause more serious illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or even meningitis. While pregnant women with cytomegalovirus have babies who may have a birth defect known as congenital cytomegalovirus syndrome.
In such cases, neurological defects (for example mental retardation), underdeveloped eyes, and deafness are frequently noted.
Immunocompromised individuals may be at a greater risk of developing complications related to CMV infection.
Assessment and Diagnostic Findings
CMV is a significant cause of morbidity in solid organ transplant patients, accounting for up to one-third of post-transplant infections and contributing to increased rates of disease recurrence and mortality. The virus is transmitted via saliva or other bodily fluids. Pregnant women with undiagnosed CMV infection can transmit it to their unborn child, which may cause congenital defects and developmental disabilities.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is usually a mild or asymptomatic illness. However, it can be serious in people with compromised immune systems, and those infected may experience flu-like symptoms or even organ failure. In general, healthy individuals are not at risk for serious complications from CMV infection. They can only pass on CMV to others when they have symptoms of a primary infection themselves, which usually means within two weeks of acquiring it from an infected person.
What are the Symptoms of CMV?
The symptoms of cytomegalovirus, or CMV, vary based on where they are and when they appear. However, many are very similar to those of mononucleosis (mono). Symptoms may be mild or severe; many people with CMV don’t even know they have it.
The virus usually has no specific effects on a person’s health. But in some cases, it can lead to serious conditions such as birth defects if a woman contracts it during pregnancy.
How do People get CMV?
The way people usually get CMV is by coming into direct contact with a CMV-infected person. For example, parents can pass CMV to their children through breast milk or saliva when they kiss them or if they share food together.
Someone can also transmit CMV to another person if they’re sharing dishes, drinking glasses, razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers without cleaning them first.
Additionally, pregnant women can pass it on to their unborn child before birth.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that lives in your body but does not do any harm to your organs or tissues. It’s possible for pregnant women to get CMV. This can be passed onto a baby during birth, causing permanent damage.
For example, babies with congenital CMV may have trouble hearing or seeing, learning or remembering things, and developmental delays.
Preventing CMV Infection
When children are young, they’re more likely to come into contact with Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common herpes virus.
Children may be more susceptible to CMV because their immune systems aren’t fully developed, and young children are still picking up germs and coming into contact with many other people.
As children get older, they become less susceptible to viruses like CMV, and they develop immunity over time.
Treatments Available for CMV
The most common antiviral treatments available for cytomegalovirus are ganciclovir and valganciclovir. Both can be used as a preventative measure in those who suffer from recurrent infections, such as transplant patients, or as a treatment after exposure to someone with active CMV. However, neither is specific to CMV; they work against a wide range of viruses.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common, usually mild viral infection that affects nearly all adults. It’s caused by a virus in the herpes family and transmitted through close contact with an infected person’s saliva, urine, or other bodily fluids.
Most people get CMV at some point in their lives—and may not even know it. In general, there are no serious symptoms or long-term effects from CMV infection; though it can be serious for people with weakened immune systems.