Overview of Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a type of herpes virus that can affect humans, typically infecting cells in the body and causing mild symptoms such as fever and enlarged lymph nodes. This virus is not highly infectious and it is estimated that around half to two-thirds of the world’s population have a CMV infection.
CMV can be spread through contact with bodily fluids of an infected individual such as saliva, blood and urine, as well as through breast milk, organ transplants and sexual contact. The virus may not cause symptoms and a person can be an asymptomatic carrier of CMV for their entire life. If symptoms occur, they usually appear within the first two weeks of infection and can include sore throat, fever, swollen glands and mild flu-like symptoms.
Effects on Health and Health
Most healthy people will have little to no long-term effects from CMV but for some groups, particular those with a weakened immune system, the virus can cause serious problems. Common health effects of CMV infection include:
Mononucleosis is a viral infection that affects the lymph nodes, spleen and liver and is characterized by fever, swollen lymph nodes and extreme fatigue. CMV can cause a Mononucleosis-like syndrome in those with a weakened immune system.
This is a condition that causes swelling in the retina of the eye, and can lead to blindness. The symptoms of retinitis often appear before other complications arise, making it a useful indicator of a CMV infection.
Hepatitis and Lung Damage
CMV can also cause severe inflammation and damage to liver and lungs, which can be life-threatening depending on the severity.
CMV infection in pregnant women can be especially dangerous, as it can cause severe birth defects such as hearing loss, mental retardation, and vision and motor impairments.
The best way to protect yourself from CMV is to practice good hygiene such as handwashing and avoiding close contact with people who have CMV symptoms. Avoiding unprotected sexual contact and sharing contaminated items with an infected person can also reduce the risk of infection.
People with weakened immune systems should be especially careful as they are at greater risk of CMV infection and its complications. If they are infected, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible in order to prevent potentially serious health effects.