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Alaska Regional Hospital
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CMV Infection

The content below is part of the “Health Library” and is not indicative of services available at the facility.

Definition

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common infection that has an effect on the entire body. Once infected, the virus remains in your body for the rest of your life. It is often in a sleeping state, but can be activated by stressful situations.

The Lymphatic Organs
The Lymphatic Organs
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Causes

CMV is caused by a type of herpes virus. The virus is passed between people through body fluids. CMV can be passed during:

  • Kissing
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Breastfeeding
  • Changing the diaper of an infected infant

Risk Factors

This virus is so common throughout the US that everyone is considered at risk for CMV. People with the highest risk of getting this virus include:

  • Children and childcare providers in day care and preschool—due to frequent exposure to bodily fluids
  • People with suppressed or impaired immune systems, including people with:

Symptoms

The virus does not cause any symptoms when it is inactive. The virus may be activated because of stressful situations, medication, illness, or reduced immunity. Symptoms of the activated virus include:

People with suppressed or impaired immune systems can also develop:

Diagnosis

CMV infection is not often diagnosed because the virus rarely produces symptoms. If CMV is suspected, the doctor may look for signs of the infection in blood or fluid samples. A biopsy may also be done on organs that are affected.

Treatment

Most people infected with CMV will not need a specific treatment. Treatment may be needed if the virus is reactivated and you have a weakened immune system.

Antiviral medications may be used for people who have an organ transplant or a suppressed immune system. These medications do not cure CMV, but can decrease the symptoms and duration of the illness.

Prevention

There is no way to prevent CMV, but there are some measures that can decrease your chance of the infection:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Properly dispose of diapers.
  • Do not share glasses or eating utensils.
  • Avoiding intimate contact with people known to have the CMV infection.
  • Practice safe sex.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: David Horn, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2016 -
  • Update Date: 06/19/2014 -
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    http://www.cdc.gov

  • Infectious Diseases Society of America

    http://www.idsociety.org

  • Herpes Guide

    http://www.herpesguide.ca

  • Public Health Agency of Canada

    http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

  • Cytomegalovirus. Family Doctor—American Association of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/cytomegalovirus.html. Updated July 2013. Accessed June 10, 2015.

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and congenital CMV infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cmv/index.html. Updated July 28, 2010. Accessed June 10, 2015.

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in immunocompetent patients. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T906245/Cytomegalovirus-CMV-infection-in-immunocompetent-patients. Updated February 26, 2015. Accessed June 10, 2015.