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CMV Infection


Pronunciation: sigh-toe-meg-a-lo-virus


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common viral infection that can have an effect on the entire body.

The Lymphatic Organs

The Lymphatic Organs
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Causes    TOP

A type of herpes virus causes CMV. It’s passes from person to person through bodily fluids. Examples include:

  • Kissing
  • Sexual contact
  • Breastfeeding
  • Changing the diaper of an infected infant

Risk Factors    TOP

CMV is very common in the US. Everyone carries a risk of getting it. Your risk is higher if:

  • Your child's in day care and preschool
  • You work with children in day care or preschool
  • You have a suppressed immune system which can result from:

Symptoms    TOP

The virus does not cause symptoms when it’s inactive. Stress, medicines, illness, or suppressed immunity can reactivate the virus.

Common symptoms involve:

People with suppressed immune systems may also have:

  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the large intestines with ulcers and bleeding—colitis
  • An eye infection that can cause blindness—retinitis
  • Infection of the liver—hepatitis
  • Infection of the brain that can result in seizures or coma—encephalitis

Diagnosis    TOP

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. Your doctor may suspect CMV based on your symptoms. Blood tests can look for signs of infection if needed. Severe infections involving organs may require a biopsy.

Treatment    TOP

CMV usually goes away on its own. There are no medicines to treat CMV. The goal of care is to ease symptoms while the virus is active.

Antiviral medicines treat serious infections, shorten illness duration, and ease symptoms in people with suppressed immune systems.

Prevention    TOP

To help lower your chances of CMV infection:

  • Avoid contact with bodily fluids when taking care of children.
  • Wash your hands carefully after changing diapers.
  • Practice safe sex.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
IDSA—Infectious Diseases Society of America


Public Health Agency of Canada


Cytomegalovirus. Family Doctor—American Association of Family Physicians website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 2013. Accessed May 14, 2018.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and congenital CMV infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed May 14, 2018.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in immunocompetent patients. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 10, 2018. Accessed May 14, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/14/2018

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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