Comprehending Cytomegalovirus

Dealing with cytomegalovirus can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean comprehending cytomegalovirus should be. Learn more about the common yet often under-discussed virus in our latest blog below!

What You Need to Know About Cytomegalovirus

While it might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is more common than you may think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of adults have been affected by the condition by age 40. Belonging to the group of herpes viruses, the virus will live in the body’s cells after the initial infection. It can remain dormant until another illness or a weakened immune system triggers a flare-up. CMV affects people of all ages and is usually contracted through an infected person’s saliva, urine, or other bodily fluids; examples include kissing or sharing utensils. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or cure for CMV yet, but with medical breakthroughs happening every day, it could be closer than we think.Photo of CMV test tubes in lab or doctors facility.

Understanding the Symptoms of CMV

A CMV infection can be relatively harmless in some cases, mainly for generally healthy people, as they are usually asymptomatic. However, CMV is also capable of causing severe and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Depending on an individual’s level of immunity or underlying health conditions, symptoms vary significantly from person to person. Some symptoms one may experience after infection are fatigue, sore throat, and swollen glands. If symptoms do occur, they tend to only last for a few weeks.

For immunocompromised individuals, such as chemotherapy patients or transplant recipients, CMV could result in symptoms that affect several bodily organs like the lungs, esophagus, liver, and intestines.  Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to reducing the risk of long-term health impacts. Many CMV symptoms are manageable with proper medical care, though immunocompromised patients should take precautions to avoid infection.

Blurry image of pregnant woman waiting in a doctors office.

CMV Risks During Pregnancy

Cytomegalovirus poses significant risks if a woman is infected for the first-time during pregnancy. For pregnant women, a primary CMV infection can lead to congenital CMV when the virus is passed to the baby in the womb. In the case of congenital CMV, it can cause mental or physical impairments for the baby. This can lead to various health issues with both short-term and long-term effects on the infant. In fact, CMV is reportedly the leading infectious cause of congenital disabilities in the U.S., affecting about 1 in 200 babies. Short-term effects on infants include jaundice, rashes, anemia, and seizures. Long-term effects can include hearing loss, vision loss, mental disability, and microcephaly. In pregnant women, CMV can also result in premature birth, low birth weight, or, sadly, stillbirth.

Due to the risks involved, pregnant women should practice good hygiene, like regular hand-washing, and seek a healthcare professional’s help if any problems arise. Early detection and intervention can minimize some CMV-related effects on babies, highlighting the importance of regular prenatal testing and monitoring for mothers and babies alike.

Proactive prevention can make all the difference.We vs. CMV! At Seattle Clinical Research Center, we aim to focus on the importance of prevention! To learn more about how you can remain proactive about your health, browse our clinical studies now enrolling, contact us at (206) 522-3330 ext. 2 or visit our website for more details.  The medical advancements of tomorrow start today!