Cytomegalovirus is related to the viruses that cause chickenpox, herpes simplex and mononucleosis. Once you're infected with CMV, the virus remains with you for life, but it's not always active. CMV may cycle through periods during which it lies dormant and then reactivates. If you're healthy, it mainly stays dormant. You can pass the virus to others during reactivation.
Transmission of the virus occurs through exposure to body fluids — including blood, urine, saliva, breast milk, tears, semen and vaginal fluids — not by casual contact.
The virus can spread in a number of ways:
Apr. 30, 2011
- Touching your eyes or the inside of your nose or mouth after coming into contact with the body fluids of an infected person. This is the most common way CMV is spread because it's absorbed through the mucous membranes.
- Through sexual contact with an infected person.
- Through the breast milk of an infected mother.
- Through organ transplantation or blood transfusions.
- Through the placenta, from an infected mother to her unborn child, or during birth.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and congenital CMV infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cmv/overview.html. Accessed March 10, 2011.
- Demmler GJ, et al. Cytomegalovirus infection and disease in newborns, infants, children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 3, 2011.
- Neurological consequences of cytomegalovirus infection information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cytomegalic/cytomegalic.htm. Accessed March 10, 2011.
- Friel TJ. Epidemiology, clinical manifestations and treatment of cytomegalovirus infection in immunocompetent hosts. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 3, 2011.
- Dropulic LK, et al. Update on new antivirals under development for the treatment of double-stranded DNA virus infections. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2010;88:610.
- Hirsch MS. Cytomegalovirus and human herpesvirus types 6, 7, and 8. In: Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Online. 17th ed. 2010. New York, N.Y.: McGraw Hill Companies. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2869361. Accessed March 10, 20111.