Cytomegalovirus (CMV) (cont.)

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What is cytomegalovirus (CMV)?

CMV, or cytomegalovirus (si-to-MEG-a-lo-vi-rus), is a virus that belongs to the herpes virus family. Other members of the family include herpes simplex viruses (cause cold sores and genital herpes), varicella-zoster virus (causes chickenpox and shingles), and Epstein-Barr virus (causes infectious mononucleosis). Infection with CMV is common and occurs in people of all ages worldwide. Experts estimate that more than half of the adult population in the United States is infected with CMV, and 80% of adults have had the infection by the time they are 40 years old. About one in 150 children is born with CMV infection.

What causes cytomegalovirus infection?

Direct contact with body fluids from an infected person exposes an individual to CMV. Most healthy children and adults do not experience any symptoms after infection with CMV. However, in people with a weakened immune system (such as those with HIV or AIDS), CMV may cause serious disease. CMV can cause retinitis (blurred vision and blindness), painful swallowing (dysphagia), diarrhea, and weakness or numbness in the legs.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/3/2014

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