How to Recognize and Treat Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is part of the herpes virus family, including the herpes simplex viruses and the viruses that cause infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr Virus) and chickenpox. Once CMV is in the body, it stays there for the rest of the person's life. Most people who are infected with CMV have no signs or symptoms. Unborn children are most often the victims of CMV.

Steps

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    Know who is at risk. Unborn babies who are infected during pregnancy and people with a weakened immune system are at a higher risk of contracting CMV.
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    Watch for the symptoms of CMV.
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    Understand that the symptoms of CMV are very much like those of other diseases, therefore many people never know that they have CMV. Babies born with CMV may never exhibit symptoms.
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    Be aware that the virus may cause temporary symptoms in children born with the virus. Symptoms may appear months or even years after birth. They include:
    • Small size at birth.
    • Purple skin splotches.
    • Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin).
    • Seizures.
    • Liver problems.
    • Spleen problems.
    • Lung problems.
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    Know that children born with CMV are more likely to have permanent disabilities and life-long health issues. These disabilities can include:
    • Deafness.
    • Blindness.
    • A small head.
    • Mental disabilities.
    • Seizures.
    • Lack of coordination.
    • Death.
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    Understand that there is no recommended treatment for CMV infection in someone who is healthy, including women who are expecting. Antiviral drugs ganciclovir and valganciclovir are being used for patients with weakened immune systems. A vaccine for the virus is in experimental stages.
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    Know that a blood test can detect CMV.

Tips

  • Because they have developed immunity, a very large percent of women who have one baby with congenital CMV will be protected from CMV infections in the future.
  • If you are aware that your baby was born with CMV, it is crucial to have his/her hearing and vision tested on a regular basis.
  • Because of the strong side effects, ganciclovir should only be contemplated for infants with severe congenital CMV disease.

Article Info

Categories: Infectious Diseases