Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Last Updated: January 13, 2020

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Definition - What does Cytomegalovirus (CMV) mean?

Cytomegalovirus is a common viral infection of the herpes family. The infection usually targets a single organ, such as the brain, the heart, or the liver. As with other types of herpes, CMV is not curable. While the symptoms of an outbreak past the virus lays dormant in the body. It may flare again at any time, or not at all.

Cytomegalovirus is often shortened to the acronym CMV.

Kinkly explains Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Cytomegalovirus typically causes mild flu-like symptoms in healthy people. The symptoms vary, depending on where the infection is located, but often include fatigue and fevers. These symptoms usually subside within a few days or weeks. Some lucky people with CMV have no symptoms at all.

However, cytomegalovirus can cause more serious symptoms in vulnerable people, included people with low immunity, such as organ transplant patients and people with HIV and AIDS, and unborn babies. For example, the infection may take hold of the brain of someone with low immunity and cause them to slip into a coma. It can also cause serious infections in the blood and other organs. A baby who contracts CMV in the womb may be born deaf, have poor eyesight, an enlarged liver or spleen, or a small head, or have an intellectual disability.

As CMV is usually a minor health complaint, most people need only bed rest to get over an outbreak. However, people at risk of complications may receive antiviral medication. Their conditions will also be monitored closely to ensure they don’t face serious complications.

Cytomegalovirus can be spread in several ways including coughing or contact with infected bodily fluid including blood, breast milk, snot, semen, vaginal secretions, urine, and feces. The virus can also be transmitted via the mucus membranes through kissing, oral sex, and vaginal sex. Using condoms and dental dams during sexual contact can reduce the risk of transmission. Practicing proper hygiene, including washing hands, toys, and surfaces that come in contact with bodily fluids also reduces the risk.

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