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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) 

What is CMV? 

CMV is a common virus belonging to the herpesvirus family. Often people will not realise they have CMV, or have very mild, cold-like symptoms. It can infect people of all ages and is typically spread through close contact with body fluids, such as saliva, urine, blood, and breast milk.  

What do my test results mean?

IgG antibodies negative - suggests no past infection or immunity.

IgG antibodies positive - suggest a past infection or immunity.

IgM antibodies positive - indicates recent or current infection.

IgM antibodies negative - indicates no current infection. 

Risks to Pregnant people: 

Pregnant people, especially those who have not been previously exposed to CMV, may be at an increased risk of complications if they contract the virus during pregnancy. CMV can be transmitted from the mother to the baby, leading to congenital CMV infection. While most babies born with CMV are healthy, some may develop complications, including hearing or vision loss, intellectual disability, and developmental delays. There is currently no vaccination available against CMV. 

Prevention Strategies: 

  • Hand Hygiene: 

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after contact with young children, diapers, and saliva. 

  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. 

  • Avoiding Contact with Bodily Fluids: 

  • Avoid kissing young children on the mouth and sharing utensils or food with them. 

  • Pregnant people should be cautious about contact with saliva and urine, particularly if caring for young children. 

  • Safe Food Handling: 

  • Practice proper food safety to reduce the risk of CMV transmission through contaminated food. 

  • Limiting Exposure in the Workplace: 

  • Educational Awareness: 

  • Stay informed about CMV and its transmission methods. 

  • Discuss any concerns with healthcare providers and attend prenatal appointments regularly. 

Early detection and management in pregnancy can help ensure the best possible outcomes for both the parent and the baby. Look out for any signs or symptoms of CMV infection, such as fever, fatigue, and swollen glands. While there is a potential risk, taking proactive steps to minimise exposure and seeking timely medical advice can contribute to a healthier conception journey. 

Links to more information 

The Children’s Hospital Westmead CMV factsheet  

  

CDC Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Congenital CMV Infection  

  

Congenital CMV Association Australia  

  

NHMRC Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services (5th Edition) 2013 https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/ch55

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