Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a commonly widespread herpes virus that is usually harmless and rarely causes illness. Most people with CMV don't even know they have it, because they have no symptoms. The greatest concern is if you're pregnant or have a compromised immune system. Once a person becomes infected, the virus remains alive, but usually dormant for life with no long term health consequences.
CMV infection can be passed to a developing baby before birth. Most infants born with CMV don't have problems. but some infants can have health problems that may be apparent at birth or may develop later during infancy or childhood. About 1 in 150 children is born with congenital CMV. CMV infection in a pregnant woman can cause birth defects such as hearing loss, blindness, epilepsy, and varying degrees of mental retardation, and, in rare cases, death in babies infected before birth. A recent study found that only 14% of women in the United States have even heard of CMV, even though more children have disabilities due to congenital CMV than most other well-known infections and syndromes.
Most people have no symptoms. People with a compromised immune system can have a more severe form of the disease. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, rash, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, and malaise.
The virus is generally passed from infected people to others through direct contact with body fluids, such as saliva, urine, vaginal secretions, semen, and breast milk. Pregnant women are usually exposed to CMV through sexual contact and touching the urine of young children with CMV infection.
Tests may be done to check for special proteins in the blood (antibodies) that are produced by CMV. Other tests can be done to check the body’s response to the CMV infection, such as the CMV ELISA antibody test and the CMV serum PCR test.
There is no cure for CMV. There is no recommended treatment for healthy adults with CMV infection. For infants and people with compromised immune systems, antiviral medications may be prescribed.