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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) - What You Know Can Save You

Apr 4, 2008
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus, which can be transmitted to the developing fetus before birth. The cytomegalovirus infection usually is not harmful and it rarely triggers diseases. For most of the healthy persons, which contract this virus after birth, there are several symptoms and there are not long term medical consequences. Once a person is infected, the virus is still active, but it is latent during that person's life.

There are different types of infections: -primary cytomegalovirus -recurring cytomegalovirus

A primary infection may have more adverse effect in pregnancy than the recurring type. During the times that the immune system of a person is down, the virus can become active and trigger the cytomegalovirus disease. However, the infected person will not suffer serious medical problems.

Both children and adults do not produce noticeable symptoms. Still, the following are the common symptoms manifested, generally after 3 to 12 weeks from exposure: - inflammation of the glands - fever - a general feeling of fatigue and exhaustion

The cytomegalovirus is under the herpes family and as discussed earlier can live inside a person's body for a long time in an inactive condition. Body fluids such as urine, blood, saliva, breast milk and tears may carry the virus yet remain undiagnosed due to its lack of visible symptoms.

The incidence of cytomegalovirus infection in adults is 50-85% for those who are beyond 40 years old, and is most prevalent in developed countries. Fetus in a woman's womb, people working with children or people with HIV are at greater risk of catching the infection.

The cytomegalovirus is transferred from person to person and cannot stay on water, food, or animals. It does not spread rapidly but it has been observed to go around more quickly in centres for children. Close contact with an infected person can also get you infected through the urine, saliva, breast milk, or other body fluids.

Persons infected with cytomegalovirus hardly manifest any symptoms, thus the infection can go unnoticed for a long time. To truly determine if there is an infection, one has to have urine analysis, blood tests analysis of samples taken from the throat and the tissue. Costs for these laboratory tests are very costly so that not all countries can afford them.

For pregnant women who become infected with cytomegalovirus, there are two ways to examine the fetus to ascertain if the baby has acquired the disease. There are two kinds of blood tests. If infected, the fetus will not be able to develop a normal level of amniotic liquid and show slow growth in the uterus as well as delayed development of the brain tissue. Once the baby is born, samples of blood, urine and saliva can be taken for testing.

In the case of an infection with cytomegalovirus during pregnancy, it can be treated using medication, but only if the stage of the disease is a severe one.
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