Cytomegalovirus is a member of viral family known as Herpesvirus. So, it is actually quite similar to Herpes simplex virus, because the two belong to the same viral family. Cytomegalovirus infection affects people all over the world and can easily spread from one person to another by direct contact. The infection is generally harmless if it occurs in healthy individuals. However, the infection may be fatal for immunocompromised patients or cause severe damage to the unborn baby if the mother contracts the virus during pregnancy. Also, once the virus enters the body it continues living silently and may reactivate once the immune system becomes weak.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for cytomegalovirus infection, but with some preventive measures infection can be avoided.
Cytomegalovirus Infection - Transmission
Cytomegalovirus is spread via direct contact with the infected individuals. Even people without any clear symptoms or signS of the infection (asymptomatic patients) may easily pass the virus to healthy individuals. The viral particles are isolated from many bodily fluids including urine, blood, saliva, semen, cervical secretions and even breast milk.
Any contact which allows transfer of the infected bodily fluid may end up with the infection. So, there are several ways of transmission like hand-to-mouth contact, sexual contact, blood transfusions, organ transplants and breastfeeding. It is also possible for the virus to pass through the placental barrier and infect the unborn baby.
Cytomegalovirus Infection - Risk Groups
Even though practically anyone can contract cytomegalovirus, there are certain groups of people who are more susceptible. Active infection is, for instance, more reported in babies born to women who have a first time cytomegalovirus infection during pregnancy, pregnant women who work and are in repeated contact with infants/children as well as people with weak immune system.Cytomegalovirus Infection - Symptoms and Signs
Active infection is typically accompanied by high fever, chills, extreme fatigue, headache and sometimes enlarged spleen. General ill feeling is reported by the majority of people suffering from active form of the infection.
As far as congenital cytomegalovirus infection is concerned, it is responsible for mental and developmental problems, vision and hearing issues and some babies develop a life-threatening infection at birth. Only infants who develop cytomegalovirus infection after birth suffer from only a few or no complications. They may, however, develop lung problems, poor weight gain, swollen glands, rash as well as liver problems.
Finally, immunocompromised patients develop life-threatening infection accompanied by pneumonia, liver infection and anemia. Infection is in their case frequently fatal. HIV patients are also prone to cytomegalovirus retinitis, a severe condition affecting the retina that frequently leads to loss of vision.