What is cytomegalovirus?

Cytomegalovirus is a virus belonging to the herpesvirus family that commonly infects humans. Although cytomegalovirus infections are very common, most people who are otherwise healthy who have the infection do not feel sick or even notice the infection. In fact, the clinical course of cytomegalovirus infection usually hinges on the host: healthy, unhealthy, or immunocompromised. Some individuals, particularly those whose immune systems are weakened, develop symptoms that resemble mononucleosis. People whose immune systems are weakened are also more likely to develop cytomegalovirus infections of the digestive tract, eyes, or lungs. It is estimated that between 50% and 80% of people in the United States have had a cytomegalovirus infection by the age of 40(Source: NIH).

Cytomegalovirus infections in otherwise healthy individuals typically resolve on their own without treatment, but it can take weeks or months for the symptoms to go away completely. Fevers often resolve in 10 days, but if the spleen and lymph nodes become swollen, these swellings can take about a month to go away. Fatigue may persist for an additional few months.

Cytomegalovirus spreads directly through person-to-person contact and indirectly through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can be spread through saliva and other body fluids. Cytomegalovirus can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. Congenital cytomegalovirus infection passed from a pregnant mother to her baby can cause long-term problems, including growth disturbances, vision or hearing loss, or mental disability. Cytomegalovirus  infection in the newborn can be fatal. Cytomegalovirus is one of the most common viral infections present at birth: every year, approximately one in every 750 babies born in the United States has the infection (Source: CDC).

Most cytomegalovirus infections do not produce symptoms; however, some people develop severe infections that can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as high fever, severe abdominal pain, confusion, lethargy, loss or change in level of consciousness, or seizure.


What are the symptoms of cytomegalovirus?

Most people who have a cytomegalovirus infection do not experience any symptoms at all, although you may develop symptoms such as fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, and swollen glands. People with weakened immune systems are more likely to have symptoms, which may be severe and can affect different orga... Read more about cytomegalovirussymptoms


What causes cytomegalovirus?

Cytomegalovirus is a member of the herpesvirus family. It is contagious and spreads from person to person, but most people never develop symptoms. It can be spread through all bodily fluids and can also spread from a pregnant mother to her baby.

What are the risk factors for cytomegalovirus?

A number of factors increase your risk of developing cytomegalovirus infection.... Read more about cytomegaloviruscauses


How is cytomegalovirus treated?

Cytomegalovirus typically resolves on its own and rarely requires treatment. However, your doctor might prescribe antiviral medications if you have a weakened immune system.

Antiviral medications used to treat cytomegalovirus

Antiviral medications used to treat cytomegalovirus include:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases

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