Laboratory tests — including tests of blood and other body fluids or tests of tissue samples — can detect cytomegalovirus (CMV).
During pregnancy and after delivery
If you're pregnant, testing to determine whether you've ever been infected with CMV can be important. Pregnant women who have already developed CMV antibodies have a very small chance of a reactivation infecting their unborn children.
If your doctor detects a new CMV infection while you're pregnant, a prenatal test (amniocentesis) can determine whether the fetus has been infected. In this test, your doctor takes and examines a sample of amniotic fluid. Amniocentesis is generally recommended when abnormalities that might be caused by CMV are seen on ultrasound.
If your doctor suspects your baby has congenital CMV, it's important to test the baby within the first three weeks of birth. If your baby has CMV, your doctor likely will recommend additional tests to check the health of the baby's organs, such as the liver and kidneys.
In people who have weakened immunity
Testing for CMV can also be important if you have a weakened immune system. For example, if you have HIV or AIDS, or if you've had a transplant, your doctor may want to monitor you regularly.
Treatment generally isn't necessary for healthy children and adults. Healthy adults who develop CMV mononucleosis generally recover without medication.
Newborns and people who have weakened immunity need treatment when they're experiencing symptoms of CMV infection. The type of treatment depends on the signs and symptoms and their severity.
Antiviral medications are the most common type of treatment. They can slow reproduction of the virus, but can't eliminate it. Researchers are studying new medications and vaccines to treat and prevent CMV.
Preparing for your appointment
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
Before your appointment take these steps:
- Write down any symptoms you or your child is experiencing. Include signs and symptoms even if they seem minor, such as low-grade fever or fatigue.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Your time with your doctor is limited, so it can be useful to prepare a list of questions.
For CMV, questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- What tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- Will I infect others?
- Are there any restrictions I need to follow?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions, including:
- How long have you had your symptoms?
- Do you work or live with young children?
- Have you had a blood transfusion or organ, bone marrow or stem cell transplant recently?
- Do you have a medical condition that might weaken your immune system, such as HIV or AIDS?
- Are you receiving chemotherapy?
- Do you practice safe sex?
- Are you pregnant or breast-feeding?
In addition, if you think you have been exposed during pregnancy:
- When do you think you may have been exposed?
- Have you had symptoms of the condition?
- Have you been tested for CMV before?
Mar 23, 2022
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- Kliegman RM, et al. Cytomegalovirus. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 22, 2020.
- Kimberlin DW, et al. Cytomegalovirus infection. In: Red Book Online. 31st ed. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2018. https://redbook.solutions.aap.org. Accessed Jan. 22, 2020.
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- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and congenital CMV infection: Babies born with CMV (congenital CMV infection). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cmv/congenital-infection.html. Accessed Jan. 22, 2020.
- Demmler-Harrison GJ. Congenital cytomegalovirus infection: Clinical features and diagnosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Jan. 22, 2020.