Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is an infection that impacts men, women, and children equally. By the time a child reaches five years of age, they have a 33% chance of being infected; in adults over 40, more than half have been infected at some point in their life. The disease itself remains in a person’s body once they have been infected, but the vast majority of people never experience symptoms; because of this, most people are not even aware they have they infection. In an average person, their immune system is healthy enough to keep the infection at bay; however, people with compromised immune systems or children infected with CMV prior to birth can be susceptible to symptoms.
While those with healthy immune systems may occasionally experience symptoms of fever or a sore throat, susceptible patients experience far worse symptoms. Babies who have congenital CMV can experience delays in growth or brain, liver, or lung problems. Those with compromised immune systems can experience problems with their eyes, lungs, stomach, or intestines. CMV is transmitted from one person to another through bodily fluids like urine, blood, semen, and breast milk. It can be transmitted through organ or blood transfusions, as well. A blood test can determine if a person has been infected with CMV, and antiviral drugs can be prescribed to slow the virus from reproducing. Research is still being done on medications to treat the infection as well as a vaccine to protect people from infection.