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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is caused by a virus
CMV is a virus that is harmless to most people. CMV is a member of the herpes group of viruses.
Most people get CMV at some time in their lives
Most adults and children who catch CMV have no symptoms and are not
harmed by the virus. Symptoms some people may get are fever, sore
throat, fatigue, and swollen glands. CMV can stay in the body (latent
form) and can reactivate in some people.
CMV is usually spread through close person-to-person contact
CMV may be found in body secretions, such as urine, saliva, feces,
blood and blood products, breast milk, semen and cervical secretions.
CMV can be in these secretions for months to years after the infection.
Infection is spread from person to person through close contact,
including kissing as well as getting saliva or urine on your hands and
then touching your nose or mouth. A pregnant woman who is infected may
also pass the virus to her developing baby. A baby may also be infected
during birth, as a newborn, and through breast feeding. CMV can be
spread through blood transfusion and organ transplantation.
Two groups of people are at higher risk of problems from CMV:
Laboratory tests can look for the virus or for antibodies to the virus
These tests can be ordered to diagnose CMV in a person with symptoms.
Antibody levels can be tested to see if the person was infected with
CMV in the past.
Exclusion of children with CMV is not necessary
Children known to have CMV should not be excluded from school or
child care facilities. This is because CMV is very common and there are
many other healthy children who may have the virus too—so, good personal
hygiene is needed—all the time.
Prevent infection with good personal hygiene
CMV is widespread in the community. The best way to prevent or lessen
the chance of infection is through good hygiene. Always wash your hands
after diapering and handling any baby at home or at work since urine
and saliva are important sources of CMV.
Pregnant women should check with their doctors
Pregnant women and women considering pregnancy should realize that
they may be at risk of CMV from contact with saliva or urine of family
members, others in the community, and in occupational settings. A
pregnant woman or a woman who is considering pregnancy should talk to
her doctor if she cares for infants or young children, or handles urine
or saliva in any home or occupational setting. The doctor may want to
check her blood to see if she has been exposed to CMV. Pregnant women do
not necessarily need to be excluded from such situations, but should
know about the possible risks at home and at work and that good personal
hygiene is the most important preventive measure. In situations of good
hygiene, even a woman who has never had CMV infection is at very low
risk of catching CMV.
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