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- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection facts
- What is cytomegalovirus (CMV)?
- What causes cytomegalovirus infection?
- What are the risk factors for cytomegalovirus infection?
- Is CMV contagious?
- How long is cytomegalovirus contagious?
- How is cytomegalovirus transmitted?
- What is the incubation period for cytomegalovirus?
- What are cytomegalovirus infection symptoms and signs?
- What specialists treat cytomegalovirus infections?
- How do physicians diagnose cytomegalovirus infection?
- What is the treatment for cytomegalovirus infection?
- What is the prognosis of cytomegalovirus infection?
- What are complications of cytomegalovirus infection?
- Is it possible to prevent cytomegalovirus infection? Is there a CMV vaccine?
What specialists treat cytomegalovirus infections?
Specialists usually become involved in the care of complicated cases of CMV or when preventive treatment is needed. Most complicated cases are in individuals who have weakened immune systems, usually due to HIV, cancer chemotherapy, or bone and organ transplantation. Because CMV may affect any organ system, multiple specialists may take part in the management, such as gastroenterologists (digestive system specialists) or pulmonologists (lung specialists). An infectious-disease specialist is often consulted as part of the care team to assist with monitoring, preventive antivirals or treatment of active infection. Pediatric infectious-disease specialists may manage the care of infants with congenital CMV.
How do physicians diagnose cytomegalovirus infection?
Most CMV infections go undiagnosed because the virus causes little to no symptoms. When a person is infected with CMV, antibodies (proteins) to the virus called IgM and/or IgG anti-CMV antibodies develop and stay in the body for the rest of the person's life. A blood test to detect the antibodies will be positive if the person has had a CMV infection. If the antibody test is negative, the person is considered to be uninfected with CMV.
If a "definitive" diagnosis of active CMV infection is necessary, the virus can be found in bodily fluids (such as blood, saliva, or urine) or body tissues by culturing (growing) the virus or detecting its DNA or specific protein called pp65 antigen by PCR tests. These tests are done if a person has signs and symptoms consistent with an active CMV infection. The virus can become reactivated from its latent state (latent infection) when a person's immune system has weakened. Tissue biopsy of affected body systems may sometimes show clumps of CMV in the cells, called "inclusion bodies." CMV inclusion bodies make the infected cell look like an "owl's eye" under the microscope.
These tests may be done if a woman develops symptoms of CMV infection during pregnancy in order to provide counseling and possible treatment for congenital CMV. They may also be done to diagnose a congenital CMV infection if CMV is detected in a newborn's urine, saliva, blood, or other body tissues within two to three weeks after birth.