Tag: CMV prevention

April 1, 2022
What is cytomegalovirus

Cytomegalovirus (sy-toe-MEG-a-low-vy-rus) (CMV) is a common virus that’s undoubtedly a tongue-twister. Even with a name that’s 15 letters long, many people know little about it. The majority of individuals who contract CMV are not aware they have it. Unfortunately, lack of awareness isn’t a positive thing in this case. Cytomegalovirus has a more nefarious side that preys on the most vulnerable populations. Through education and research, we are ending the commonality of CMV.

What is CMV, and How Common is it?

The virus that causes human CMV infections belongs to the herpes virus family. Once an individual contracts CMV, it stays with them their entire life. Like other herpes viruses, it can remain dormant and then reactivate. Re-infection from another strain is also possible.

Millions have CMV without knowing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 50 and 80 percent of people in the United States have had a CMV infection by the time they are 40 years old.

Symptoms and Vulnerable Population for Severe Disease

In most cases, individuals with a CMV infection don’t experience symptoms, thus making them unaware they have it. Mild symptoms generally consist of fatigue, fever, sore throat, and muscle aches. Below are the three main populations at risk for severe CMV symptoms and complications:

  •   Congenital CMV: When an infant gets a CMV infection before birth.
    •  Severe symptoms include jaundice, fever, and enlargement of the spleen and liver.
  • Perinatal CMV: When a baby is infected with CMV during or shortly after birth.
    • Infants that contract CMV after birth can face deafness, blindness, and other long-term neurological complications such as intellectual disabilities.
  • CMV infection individuals with weakened immune systems:
    • Severe symptoms include advanced pneumonia and inflammation of the retina that can lead to blindness. Stomach and esophagus ulcers and infections in the brain can also occur.

Transmission and Prevention of CMV

Once CMV infection occurs, the virus can also pass into body fluids, such as saliva, urine, blood, tears, semen, and breast milk. Therefore, individuals with CMV can spread it to others in the following ways:

  • From direct contact with saliva or urine, especially from babies and young children
  • Through sexual contact
  • Nursing infants from breastmilk
  • Through transplanted organs and blood transfusions

In addition, pregnant women who have CMV can also pass the virus to their baby while still in the uterus or during birth. About 1 out of 200 babies is born with congenital CMV. Out of the babies infected, 1 in 5 will have symptoms or a long-term health problem that may be present at birth or develop after. As a result, CMV is the most common infectious cause of congenital disabilities in the U.S. Despite this, CMV is preventable. You can find general prevention tips and screening information for women of childbearing age and those currently pregnant on the National CMV Foundation website.

Sanitizing a doorknob

Antiviral medications are the traditional form of treatment because they can slow the spread of the virus. Even though none of the available therapies can eliminate the CMV virus, researchers are studying potential new options to treat and prevent it. ActivMed Practices & Research is looking for healthy women to join our CMV vaccine studies at our Methuen, MA location.

CMV is a common virus that often has no symptoms

Apply today via our website or contact us at (978) 655-7155.




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