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Cytomegalovirus Infection

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is also called generalized salivary gland disease and cytomegalic inclusion disease. CMV is a herpesvirus that occurs world-wide. The disease is transmitted by human contact. Once infected, a person carries the virus for life. It usually remains latent, but reactivation occurs when t-lymphocyte-mediated immunity is compromised, as in organ transplantation, lymphoid neoplasms, and certain acquired immunodeficiencies.


The infection result from the cytomegalovirus, a deoxyribonucleic acid virus belonging to the herpes family. CMV has been found in the saliva, urine, semen, breast milk, feces, blood, and vaginal and cervical secretions of infected people.

Signs and symptoms

Most children and adults who are infected with CMV do not develop symptoms whereas others may experience the following symptoms three to twelve weeks after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Exhausted or run down

Diagnostic tests

In adults, CMV usually is diagnosed with blood tests. If a pregnant woman develops symptoms that her doctor suspects could be caused by CMV, he will recommend two or more blood tests, to see if the levels of certain CMV-fighting antibodies that the body produces soon after infection are rising. If antibody levels rise fourfold, the woman is presumed to have CMV. In newborns, doctors diagnose CMV by identifying the actual virus in body fluids within three weeks of birth.


Although antiviral therapy for herpes viruses has had encouraging results, CMV is more difficult to prevent and treat than other herpes viruses. Ganciclovir and, less frequently, high-dose acyclovir prove helpful for certain patients, although relapse may occur. Immunoglobulin specific to CMV has been helpful in transplant recipients. The second line of therapy is foscarnet.


CMV is widespread in the community. The best way to prevent infection is to practice good personal hygiene. Wash hands often with soap and warm water. Avoid mouth contact with the body fluids of young children.

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