Cytomegalovirus (CMV) (cont.)

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What are the risk factors for cytomegalovirus infection?

People who work closely with young children, such as in child care, may be exposed to CMV and become infected. People at risk for complications from CMV infection include pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system, such as people infected with HIV, individuals who have undergone organ transplantation, cancer patients, or those who are taking medications that might suppress their immune system.

How is cytomegalovirus transmitted?

Infection with CMV is relatively common; CMV spreads easily through direct contact of body fluids (such as saliva [spit], urine, blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk) from an infected person. People become infected with CMV through sexual contact, breastfeeding, blood transfusions, injection drug use (sharing needles), or organ transplantation.

CMV transmission can also occur during pregnancy and causes CMV infection in infants, called congenital CMV infection. Approximately 1%-4% of women who have never been infected with CMV will have their primary (first) infection during pregnancy. The virus can cross the placenta and infect the fetus' blood. Approximately one-third of women who become infected for the first time during pregnancy will pass the infection to the baby.

What are cytomegalovirus symptoms and signs?

Most people infected with CMV do not have any symptoms. Acute CMV infection may cause infectious mononucleosis-like (or mono-like) symptoms such as fever, enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

In people with a suppressed immune system, CMV infection can attack different organs of the body and may cause blurred vision and blindness (CMV retinitis), lung infection (pneumonia), diarrhea (colitis), inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), causing possible behavioral changes, seizures, or coma.

Infants with CMV infection at birth (congenital CMV) can show signs and symptoms of yellow skin and eyes (jaundice), skin rash, low birth weight, pneumonia, big liver and spleen, and seizures.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2015

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