What is CMV Infection?
Cytomegalovirus infection is a viral infection. It is commonly known as CMV infection. It presents with simple symptoms like headaches, body aches, sore throat and fever. Most of the people who have CMV infection doesn’t even know that they got infected. However, people with low immunity are the ones who suffer serious illnesses, sometimes life threatening as well. New born are at very high risk of developing CMV infection, which leads to what we call as congenital CMV infection.
Why is it important?
Congenital CMV infection is the most common viral infection, with a prevalence of 0.5 %. This is a major source of childhood disability, which includes visual impairment, hearing impairment and cognitive impairment. Congenital CMV is caused by pregnant women, who acquire CMV infection in their pregnancy for the first time, transmit this viral infection to their babies. It is estimated that around 33% of these pregnant women, who have been infected with CMV will transmit to their babies.
How is it spread?
CMV infection is spread to the newborns through their pregnant mothers who acquired this infection for the first time during their pregnancy. The pregnant women when they come into contact with the kids or youngsters or toddlers through their body fluids like saliva, urine, etc. They acquire this infection. The high risk group among CMV infection are – low socioeconomic status population, Asian population, high parity and day care workers who look after the children.
How is it spread?
The rate of infection increases as the pregnancy advances. What I mean by this is if a pregnant woman acquires CMV infection in an early of her pregnancy, then the actual infection rate to the baby is much less. However, it can lead to many more fetal abnormalities. But if the pregnancy advances the rate of infection to the baby also increases. However, the fetal abnormalities if the baby get infected later gestational age is much less.
Routine testing for CMV infection in pregnancy is not recommended because poor predictability of this test to even if it is predicted the outcomes of the baby cannot be predicted and the cost. However, the general tests which are available to test for CMV infection are blood test, where they check for the antibodies like Ig G or Ig M, which will tell us whether it is a recent infection or the past infection. Other things which they can do is ultrasound scan, where they try to check any abnormalities in the baby, which could lead to the CMV infection.
The best way of treatment of CMV infection is prevention. Prevention is basically dependent on personal hygiene. What I mean by personal hygiene is regular hand washing, avoid kissing children who are less than 6 years of age on the cheek or on the lip or on the face. Avoid contact or clean the toys of the children, which could be in contact with bodily fluids like urine or saliva. And most importantly, if at all pregnant woman needs any blood transfusion, use CMV negative blood transfusion.
Commonly used medications in the treatment of CMV infections is antiviral drugs. It is called as gancyclovir. However, it is rarely used in normal adults, including pregnant women. The only time it is necessary to use are in immunocompromised patients. Sometimes another drug called Hyperimmunoglobulin can be used in pregnant women, who acquired the infection for the first time in their pregnancy.
Team Ovum Hospitals