CMV: A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

diseases_cmv_getty_article_preview

Related concepts:

Cytomegalovirus, HHV-3

Introduction to CMV:

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common infection present at birth.

What is CMV?

Like the viruses that cause chickenpox, shingles, roseola, mono, and cold sores, CMV is one of the human herpesviruses. Human herpesvirus-3, to be exact. Usually the disease it causes is mild. Nevertheless, in some children, especially those with AIDS or on chemotherapy, CMV infections can be very serious or even fatal.

Who gets CMV?

CMV occurs commonly worldwide. Babies are most likely to get it from their mothers. After infancy, children are most likely to get it in group settings such as day care centers. Sexually active adolescents are also at risk.

Recipients of blood transfusions can also get CMV infections.

What are the symptoms of CMV?

Most children with CMV have no symptoms. Some have mild CMV hepatitis (liver inflammation) or a mono-like illness. They may have fevers, rashes, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue. Those with immune problems may have pneumonia or more serious infections.

Most newborns with CMV appear to have no symptoms. Some turn out to have hearing loss or learning disabilities. Some have jaundice. A few with CMV are dramatically ill at birth.

CMV eye infections can occur at any age.

Is CMV contagious?

Yes. CMV is found in saliva, blood, urine, stool, breast milk, semen, and vaginal secretions. Because the virus does not survive easily outside these fluids, close contact is needed for transmission. It can also be transmitted on infected objects (fomites).

How long does CMV last?

The length of time that symptoms are experienced varies considerably, but 2 to 3 weeks is fairly typical. After infection the virus remains dormant in the body for a lifetime.

How is CMV diagnosed?

CMV is diagnosed by identifying the virus in a sample of body fluid.

How is CMV treated?

Antiviral medicines are among the medicines available to treat CMV infections. Antibiotics are not useful for treating CMV or other viral infections.

How can CMV be prevented?

Good hand washing and avoiding contact with stool and body fluids can prevent some cases of CMV.

If people at high risk of serious infections need blood products or organ transplants, it is important to use donors who do not have CMV.

Related A-to-Z Information:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Body-Fluid Transmission, Cataracts, Chickenpox (Varicella), Cold Sores (Herpes simplex), Contact Transmission, Deafness, Fomites, Headache, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Herpes Simplex, HIV, Human Herpesvirus, Jaundice (Bilirubin, Hyperbilirubinemia), Mononucleosis (Mono), Pneumonia, Roseola

Reviewed by: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, Liat Simkhay Snyder
Last reviewed: August 21, 2013
Dr. Alan Greene

Article written by

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.