Cytomegalovirus Infection: Everything You Need To Know About It
What is cytomegalovirus infection?
Cytomegalovirus, also known as CMV, is a common virus which can infect anyone but is more prominent in pregnant women and people with weak immune systems. People haven’t generally heard about it, as it rarely leaves any symptoms. A person once infected with CMV continues to retain the virus for his life, but, if a person is healthy, the virus remains dormant. Also, it may cycle between being dormant and being active.
What causes CMV infection?
CMV infection can be transmitted from person to person via exposure to body fluids of the infected, which includes urine, saliva, blood, breast milk, semen, vaginal fluids and even tears. Though it doesn’t get transmitted through casual contact, following should be avoided-
1. Touching eyes/ inside of nose or mouth after coming into contact with infected person
2. Sexual contact with infected person
3. Breastfeeding when the mother is infected.
4. Organ transplantation
5. Blood transfusion
CMV may also get transmitted from an infected mother to the child in her womb through the placenta or while giving birth. There’s no proper cure for CMV, but certain drugs can help in the treatment of CMV in newborns and people with weak immune systems.
CMV infection doesn’t leave many symptoms for people to notice. When first infected with CMV, people may experience symptoms similar to mononucleosis, such as muscle aches, unexplained fever, and fatigue.
Newborns with congenital CMV tend to be sick, and they must be looked for symptoms like low weight, pale eyes and skin, enlarged spleen, pneumonia, and seizures.
Complications that can arise due to a CMV infection:
Severe complications are rare, but in those rare cases, it can cause a person to become very sick and exposes him to following possibilities-
• Liver complications- It may lead to an abnormally functioning liver and high fever.
• Intestinal complications- Diarrhea, abdominal pain, colon inflammation, and blood in the stool may be caused.
• Complications with the nervous system- Encephalitis may occur, which causes inflammation of the brain and is quite dangerous.
• Lung complications- CMV can cause pneumonitis -inflammation of the lung tissue
Several other complications like hearing loss, lack of coordination, seizures, and abnormalities in vision may occur in newborn children who are infected. In the worst case, it may even lead a person to death.
How to know whether you are infected?
Simple blood tests can help in determining whether a person if infected with CMV. Blood tests indicate the presence of special proteins which are created by the immune system in response to the CMV. The virus can also be detected via other body fluids and a tissue biopsy.
The best prevention against the CMV infection is following good hygiene. Research on its medications and vaccines is currently in progress. The most common treatment that is currently given is in the form of antiviral which slows down the reproduction of CMV. One must immediately see a doctor, in case they see any possibility of being infected with CMV.