Laboratory tests — including tests of blood and other body fluids or tests of tissue samples — can detect CMV virus.
Screening and testing for your baby
If you're pregnant, testing to determine whether you've ever been infected with CMV can be important. Pregnant women with antibodies have a very small chance of a reactivation infecting their unborn child.
If your doctor detects a new CMV infection during pregnancy, a prenatal test (amniocentesis) can determine if the fetus has the infection. In amniocentesis your doctor obtains 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. After that, tests can't show your baby has congenital CMV because the baby might have contracted the infection by nursing or exposure to other people with the virus. 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.
Screening and testing if you 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, carrying the CMV virus means you'll need regular monitoring for complications of CMV, such as vision and hearing problems.
Treatment generally isn't necessary for healthy children and adults. Healthy adults who develop CMV mononucleosis generally recover without medication.
But newborns and people with compromised immune systems need treatment when they're having signs and symptoms of CMV infection. The type of treatment depends on the signs and symptoms and their severity.
The most common treatment is antiviral medications. 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 signs and 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 transplant recently?
- Do you have a medical condition that compromises 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?