Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection: Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that can affect people of all ages. It is part of the herpes group of viruses, and a CMV infection usually has mild symptoms. 

While the CMV virus stays in your body for a lifetime, it is rarely severe in healthy kids and adults. However, if the mother gets the virus while pregnant or a baby is born with a weak immune system, the virus can cause health problems. Read on to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and diagnosis of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. 

What causes CMV in children?  

CMV is a very common infection in the United States and can be quickly passed on to babies during pregnancy or birth. If a mother gets the virus during pregnancy, it can be passed on to the fetus through the placenta. It can also be passed on during the delivery if the mother has an active infection.  

Other ways that the CMV virus can spread is by contact with bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, pee, poo, semen, tears, and breast milk. It can easily spread around the home and at daycare centers.  

Cytomegalovirus Treatment in Littleton

What are the symptoms of CMV in children? 

Babies born with CMV are unlikely to have any symptoms at birth. However, when symptoms do appear, they can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of CMV include: 

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Jaundice 
  • Rashes
  • Born with a small head
  • Have feeding problems 
  • Hearing problems

CMV infections that happen in infants and older children may cause the following symptoms: 

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Pneumonia
  • Headache
  • Body aches

If your child is otherwise healthy, the symptoms will likely be mild and pass in a few days. However, if your child has any issues with their immune system or has had an organ transplant, CMV can cause health complications and will require treatment.  

How is CMV diagnosed? 

Your doctor will perform tests to check for CMV infection, taking samples from blood, urine, the person’s throat, or other body parts. The tests will look to discover the presence of the virus or any antibodies that are part of the immune system response to the CMV infection. 

How is CMV treated? 

The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms, your child’s age, and their general health. Children with very mild symptoms or no other health conditions will probably not require medical treatment. However, if your baby is born with CMV or has a weakened immune system, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications. 

Prevention of CMV 

Many of us have CMV without knowing it, so prevention is always the best cure. Make sure you and other members of your household wash hands regularly. This is especially important after you have changed diapers or wiped the noses of your toddlers. Regularly cleaning toys and shared workspaces helps to prevent the virus from spreading around the house or daycare center.  

Be sure not to share food utensils and bottles, as the virus can be passed on through saliva. Practice safe sex as well, especially when pregnant, as the virus can be passed on via semen and vaginal fluids.  

When should I call my doctor? 

CMV is a widespread virus in the US that won’t always present symptoms. However, if you contract the virus during pregnancy, it is essential to speak with your doctor so they can offer treatment and monitor your health and your baby’s health. Babies born with CMV will need regular health checkups to ensure that they get treatment for any eye or ear problems. 

Contact Focus On Kids Pediatrics today if you notice any of the symptoms of CMV.