June is national Cytomegalovirus (CMV) awareness month and we want to raise awareness and understanding of this common virus. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the devastating effects that CMV can have. CMV is the most common infection that causes deafness in the United States. CMV is similar to the virus that causes chicken pox, cold sores, or infectious mononucleosis. The virus is part of the Herpes virus family. CMV is easily transmitted from person-to-person and remains in the body for eternity.
Symptoms can dramatically vary in CMV cases. Children affected with CMV after birth rarely show any symptoms. If the virus is transmitted during pregnancy, the child has a greater chance of severe symptoms. Congenital CMV is the term used when infants are affected with the virus prior to birth.
Severe symptoms of congenital CMV include:
- Hearing loss
- Eye abnormalities
- Growth failure
- Enlarged abdominal organs
- Blood count abnormalities
- Reduced head growth
- Mental disability
- Lack of coordination
- Developmental delay
- Cognitive disabilities
Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent symptoms of congenital CMV. Even in the mildest cases of CMV, there is a 15% risk of hearing loss. One of the major issues with this type of hearing loss is that it may be progressive. In other words, infants may pass their initial newborn screening tests with no signs of any hearing problems, but later on, develop a significant loss in their hearing. If your child is experiencing hearing limitations after their newborn screening, contact a pediatric audiologist for a complete hearing assessment.
Currently there are no vaccines for CMV, although they are experimenting with potential vaccines. If you are aware of your CMV infection and are pregnant, ask your doctor about an antiviral medication that helps prevent CMV, such as Ganciclovir. Since there is no vaccine, prevention is extremely important. While pregnant, minimize exposure of infectious secretions from young children, including urine, saliva, and tears. W
hile disposing diapers or tissues, be careful not to touch your face and wash your hands immediately after. Continue to wash your hands often and avoid sharing food or drinks. CMV may infect 70% of healthy children between ages 1-3 in a daycare setting. Teachers and workers in day care, nannies, and any other professional working with young children are at an increased risk of infection.
As CMV awareness month comes to a start, be sure to share these facts with your friends and family. The more people know about the effects this virus can have, the better. It is a step in the right direction to stop the spreading of CMV.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection.” Mayo Clinic. 1998-2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.
Schleiss, Mark R., MD. “Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infections in Newborns: A Common Cause of Hearing Loss.” Hands & Voices. 2014 Hands & Voices, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2016