Cytomegalovirus (pronounced sy-toe-MEG-a-low-vy-rus), or CMV, is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Over half of adults have been infected with CMV by age 40. Most people infected with CMV show no signs or symptoms. When a baby is born with cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, it is called congenital CMV. About one out of every 200 babies is born with congenital CMV infection. About one in five babies with congenital CMV infection will have long-term health problems.
National Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month is an annual observance held in June to increase awareness of CMV, the most common infectious cause of birth defects.
CMV is the most common infectious cause of birth defects in the United States. About 1 out of 5 babies with congenital CMV infection will have birth defects or other long-term health problems, such as hearing loss. In 2011, Congress passed a resolution naming June “National CMW Awareness Month.” CDC takes this opportunity to increase awareness of congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) among healthcare providers, pregnant women, and parents.
CMV Resource Center
To help you promote CMV and CMV Awareness Month, CDC offers fact sheets, videos, infographics, and other resources for pregnant women, parents, and healthcare providers. These resources aim to increase understanding of congenital CMV and to support families affected by congenital CMV. Check out our products in the CMV Resource Center.
All of our products are designed to increase the public’s awareness of and educate people about congenital CMV, and to help healthcare professionals recognize the signs and symptoms of the disease early in children and ensure they get the services they need. Feel free to share CDC’s materials about congenital CMV with your colleagues, partners, and patients, and post them on your social media outlets and websites.
Signs and Symptoms
In some cases, infection in healthy people can cause mild illness that may include:
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands
People with weakened immune systems who get CMV can have more serious symptoms affecting the eyes, lungs, liver, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
Babies born with CMV can have brain, liver, spleen, lung, and growth problems. The most common long-term health problem in babies born with congenital CMV infection is hearing loss, which may be detected soon after birth or may develop later in childhood.
People with CMV may pass the virus in body fluids, such as saliva, urine, blood, tears, semen, and breast milk. CMV is spread from an infected person in the following ways:
- From direct contact with saliva or urine, especially from babies and young children
- Through sexual contact
- From breast milk to nursing infants
- Through transplanted organs and blood transfusions
Diagnosis and Treatment
Blood tests can be used to diagnose CMV infection in adults who have symptoms. However, blood is not the best fluid to test newborns with suspected CMV infection. Tests of saliva or urine are preferred for newborns.
Healthy people who are infected with CMV usually do not require medical treatment. Medications are available to treat CMV infection in people who have weakened immune systems and babies with signs of congenital CMV. For babies with signs of congenital CMV infection at birth, antiviral medications, primarily valganciclovir, may improve hearing and developmental outcomes. Valganciclovir can have serious side effects and has only been studied in babies with signs of congenital CMV infection. There is limited information on the effectiveness of valganciclovir to treat infants with hearing loss alone.