About the disease
Cytomegalovirus is a widespread virus that is spread through all bodily fluids. It can therefore be caught through sexual intercourse, kissing, or even sharing a glass. Although Cytomegalovirus stays in the body for the rest of the person’s life, it rarely causes any serious complications and in most cases the infected person does not even know they have it.
Nevertheless, cytomegalovirus infection can be dangerous during pregnancy or in people who have a weak immune system. If cytomegalovirus was contracted during fetal development, there is a chance that the mother will pass the infection on to her child. In people with a weak immune system, including HIV patients or those who have undergone surgery (especially for organ transplantation) cytomegalovirus can be very dangerous.
Newborn babies infected with cytomegalovirus during the prenatal period (or shortly afterwards, birth via their mother’s breast milk) may weigh less than normal and are likely to develop hearing and vision problems. Their skin may appear to be yellow, with red marks similar to a rash.
- Premature birth or low birth weight
- Liver and spleen problems
- Skin rash
- Abnormally small head (microencephaly)
- Possibility of pneumonia and/ or seizures
(People with weakened immunity)
- Vision and breathing problems
- Problems with functioning of the organs, including the brain
Otherwise healthy adults may notice symptoms similar to mononucleosis (fatigue, fever, sore throat, aching muscles) for a short time after infection, and then feel fine.
- During a general examination, the doctor will ask the patient if they have experienced any of the symptoms listed above.
- Many pregnant women are advised to undergo blood laboratory testing to check if they have contracted any infections, including cytomegalovirus. If a pregnant woman has been infected with cytomegalovirus, but she also has a high level of antibodies in her blood, it is highly unlikely that she will pass the disease on to her child.
- Children are often tested as well during the first few months of life.
- Testing of all bodily fluids (blood, saliva, urine, semen) is usually enough to determine whether someone has been infected with cytomegalovirus and can identify whether it is activated or dormant.
- Ultrasound can also help to identify cytomegalovirus.
- Conservative treatment, such as the use of antiviral medicines, can assuage the virus.
- It is impossible to completely eliminate cytomegalovirus, but in most cases doctors are able to prevent complications, if the patient was diagnosed in time.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can keep the immune system strong, thereby reducing the risk of experiencing symptoms.