What is CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection?

The CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection is caused by ‘cytomegalovirus (CMV)’ and it is a prevalent virus. Anyone can be infected by the cytomegalovirus (CMV) virus just like a cold virus. (Similar to a common cold virus, the cytomegalovirus can enter your body at any time and it retains for life.) The CMV virus rarely causes symptoms; hence most people do not know they are infected by the virus. For pregnant women and individuals with a weak immune system, cytomegalovirus (CMV) becomes a major concern as it will lead to CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection.

Once your body gets infected by the cytomegalovirus (CMV), it retains it for life, but in a dormant mode if your health is good. Body fluids such as saliva, breast milk, blood, semen and urine cause the spread of cytomegalovirus (CMV) from one person to the other. If cytomegalovirus (CMV) is spread via breast milk, in most cases the baby does not get sick. Nevertheless, pregnant individuals who develop an active CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection can easily pass the virus to the child.

What is CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection?

Causes of CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection

There are multiple causes for CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is closely linked to chickenpox, herpes simplex and mononucleosis causing viruses. After you are infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), you remain with the virus in your body for life, but in most cases it is inactive. The cytomegalovirus (CMV) at times cycle via periods of dormancy and later gets active. The virus remains dormant if you are healthy. During reactivation period, it is easy to pass the virus to others or can cause CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection.

The transmission of the virus takes place when one is exposed to body fluids, such as blood, tears, semen, breast milk, saliva, vaginal fluids and urine. However, it is not transmitted by casual contact.

Some of the ways through which the cytomegalovirus (CMV) can spread and cause CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection includes:

  • The most common way of transmitting the cytomegalovirus (CMV) and causing CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection is by touching your eyes, inside of your nose and mouth after contacting body fluids of an infected person. The virus gets absorbed using the mucous membrane.
  • Having sexual contact with an infected person can transmit the virus and cause CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection.
  • CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection can also be caused by organ transplant or blood transfusions.
  • Breastfeeding a newborn from an infected mother is a way to transmit CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection.
  • A newborn can be infected during birth or through the placenta for the unborn.

Signs and Symptoms of CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection

Newborns that get infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) while in the womb are termed to have congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV). Perinatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) occurs when a baby gets infected during and shortly after birth due to breastfeeding. For such babies and persons with weak immune systems, they are at greater risk of having signs and symptoms of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection than adults who are healthy.

Signs and Symptoms of CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection in Babies

If you are a pregnant woman and get CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection, there is low risk of infecting the baby through transmission. However, if you have primary CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection which is the first time infection, higher risks of transmitting the virus to the baby exist as compared to reactivated infection. Normally, transmission takes place during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Many babies who get infected birth appear healthy during birth but a good number develop signs with time. The signs might not develop with months or years after birth. However, hearing loss is among the usual signs occurring late. Vision impairment is likely to be developed by a small number.

Congenital CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection babies who get sick at birth happen to be extremely sick. Major signs and symptoms include:

  • Jaundice where the eyes and skin turn yellow is a symptom of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection.
  • Low birth weight or small sized babies at birth is also a symptom of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection.
  • The spleen gets enlarged.
  • Purple skin with spots, rashes or even both.
  • A malfunctioning liver which is enlarged.
  • Seizures.
  • Pneumonia.

Signs and Symptoms of CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection in Individuals with a Weak Immunity

The most usual symptom of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection to individuals with weak immune systems is a condition similar to infectious mononucleosis. Also, CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection can be organ specific. Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • Pneumonia is a symptom of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection.
  • Fever.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Hepatitis.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.
  • Impaired vision and blindness.
  • Change of behavior.
  • Encephalitis, which is inflammation of brain, is also a sign of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection.
  • Digestive tract ulcers which causes bleeding.

Majority of persons infected by cytomegalovirus (CMV) but are healthy experience few or no symptoms. First infection of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection to adults causes symptoms similar to those of mononucleosis. Some of them include muscle aches, fever and fatigue.

When you should Visit a Doctor for CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection

If your immune system is weak and you are experiencing signs and symptoms which seem to be of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection, then visit a doctor. CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection to person with weak immune system can be dangerous. However, persons with weak immune systems but have undergone bone marrow or organ transplant are at a higher risk.

If you are pregnant and develop a mononucleosis-like condition, you should visit a doctor to get tested for CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection. If you have the virus, ask the doctor the likely risks to your unborn.

If you are healthy, infected with CMV and experiencing mild and generalized conditions, you are likely to be in reactivation period. Adopting practical self-care ways which include resting enough is sufficient for your body to take control of the infection, and you might not need to visit a doctor.

When a Child Should be taken to a Doctor for CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection?

If you are certain to have the CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection, the doctor checking your baby should be aware. Making it known by the doctor makes it easier for him or her to follow your child and make sure no hearing or vision problems occur. Nevertheless, healthy newborns can hardly develop life-threatening conditions afterwards.

Tests to Diagnose CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection

Tests can help in determining if one has CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection if the symptoms are present. Blood test indicates antibodies, which are special proteins made by your immune system if CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection is present. Also, cultures and polymerase chain reaction test of blood, tissue biopsy and body fluids helps to detect the virus.

Screening and Testing for CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection in Babies

Screening and testing can help in detecting CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection in babies. If you are pregnant, it is important to take test and determine if you have ever been infected. However, if you are pregnant and have healthy antibodies, you have a small chance of a CMV reactivation infecting your unborn child.

If a new infection is detected while you are pregnant, you should consider amniocentesis, whereby the doctor takes a sample of your amniotic fluid to examine and determine if the fetus is infected. In most cases, such testing needs occur when abnormalities likely to be caused by CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection and other infections are visible noted on ultrasound.

If either you or the doctor suspect the baby is born with congenital CMV, ensure he/she is tested in the first three weeks after birth. Waiting longer gives tests which are not conclusive, since there is likeliness of the baby contracting the infection though nursing or siblings shedding the virus exposure.

Screening and Testing for CMV Infection or Cytomegalovirus Infection in weak immune

If you have a condition which makes your immune system weak, it is important to test for CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection. Such conditions include HIV and AIDS. Besides, if you do not have CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection, having CMV virus requires you to have regular monitoring of CMV infection or cytomegalovirus infection complications which include vision and hearing problems.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 29, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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