The cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a very common virus we think. It is related to viruses that cause other diseases such as infectious mononucleosis (also called “kissing disease”), herpes, or chickenpox .
This virus can be found throughout the world, since there is no area in which it develops especially. But we do know an age range in which it is much more contagious: 0 to 6 years .
As a general rule, people who contract this disease do so before their second birthday, or during adolescence. In fact, the vast majority of adults over 40 are already carriers of the virus.
It is a virus that once it enters the body of a baby or an adult, it remains there for the rest of the patient’s life, even if you are in good health.
THE VACCINE IS STILL IN THE DEVELOPMENT STAGE
The problem with this virus is when the subject who suffers from it already has difficulties in the immune system, or if the one who becomes infected is a fetus and does so through his mother, since it can have serious effects on his health.
Although CMV generally does not harm fetuses, some may develop lifelong disabilities. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in every 750 babies is born or later develops problems as a result of cytomegalovirus.
Some complications that a fetus can experience if it is infected while it is forming in pregnancy are:
– Long-term health problems
– Hearing loss
– Vision problems
– Mental retardation
– Unusually small head in size
– Abnormally large spleen and liver
– Anomalies in the nervous system
– Growth restrictions
– And even death due to these problems.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Most people do not know if they have it or not, since there are usually no external signs of the infection . Because of this, if you don’t get sick or don’t have symptoms, you can’t know for sure that you have cytomegalovirus unless you take a medical test.
However, there are people who do develop the disease, but it can be perfectly confused with the flu or mononucleosis (“kissing disease”). You can take:
– Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
– Muscle pains
– Throat pain
– Soft spot
Loss of appetite
Less often you can take:
– chest pain
– Stiff neck
– Sensitivity to light
– Breathing difficulties
– fast heart rate
People with immunodeficiencies such as those with HIV or those who have recently received a transplant and are taking immunosuppressants may have more severe symptoms. The most serious symptoms among cytomegalovirus patients are:
– Bleeding from ulcers in the esophagus or intestines
– Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
– Death of the patient
If you suffer from any of these symptoms and you are pregnant or think you are, go to your GP who will do the relevant tests and will tell you what to do. Especially if you have conditions such as HIV or AIDS , as it may cause vision problems. The logical thing is that the family doctor sends you to the ophthalmologist to determine if it has affected you or not.
There are laboratory tests based on the culture of the cytomegalovirus virus that can indicate whether or not we are infected, but they are usually quite complicated and expensive, and they are not usually performed.
However, the simplest thing is to do a blood test, since there are markers in these tests that will tell you whether or not you have cytomegalovirus.
THE PROBLEM WITH THIS VIRUS IS WHEN THE SUBJECT WHO SUFFERS FROM IT ALREADY HAS DIFFICULTIES IN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Your doctor should do a physical exam and feel your abdomen. Your liver and spleen may become sensitive if your doctor presses them gently. It is also possible that there is a skin rash.
If an analysis finally affirms that you have cytomegalovirus, the doctor will perform tests with ultrasound or the so-called aminocentesis (collection of amniotic fluid) to see if you have any type of problem. Even so, it will not be able to tell you for sure if the baby will later develop some kind of problem or disability due to the infection.
Although many people have never heard of this virus, it is quite common . People who have it can spread it to others through urine, saliva, feces, vaginal secretions, tears, blood, breast milk and semen .
You can get infected if you share a bottle of water, cutlery, or if you kiss an infected person on the mouth. Also if you have sex with her, or if when you touch a fluid from an infected person, you subsequently touch any mucosa, such as your mouth or nose; since in these areas the body absorbs especially.
THERE ARE USUALLY NO EXTERNAL SIGNS OF INFECTION
The CMV can also be transmitted through the placenta , so if the mother is affected can pass to the fetus. Although most infected babies contract cytomegalovirus during childbirth or through breastfeeding. Other ways of contagion, although not so common, are through organ transplants and blood transfusions.
CAN I PASS THE VIRUS TO THE BABY?
Of course, as we have explained a little above, it is one of the most common ways that cytomegalovirus is spread . But that does not mean that it is something safe, it depends a lot on when you catch the virus.
If you have had it or have been infected before pregnancy, it is likely that your body already has antibodies against it, and it is likely that you will not pass it on. There are also women with a weakened immune system, in this case, even if you have already beaten CMV , it can reappear, which is called recurrent cytomegalovirus . Even so, the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby during a recurrent infection is very low.
IF YOU ARE INFECTED FOR THE FIRST TIME DURING PREGNANCY, THE CHANCES OF TRANSMITTING THE VIRUS TO THE BABY ARE MUCH HIGHER
The cytomegalovirus has no cure, is a virus that the immune system of our body matures quite easily, but that does not mean it disappears, just do not make us sick.
Most patients recover within 4-5 weeks without any medication or cure. In fact, antiviral drugs are generally not used in people with a perfectly functioning immune system.
Rest is required, and some medications such as pain relievers can help relieve symptoms.
However, if you have problems with the immune system, they do give you antivirals. The vaccine is still in development, but it may be a solution in a few years.
However, we can avoid becoming infected, especially if we are already pregnant and we know that we have never been infected with cytomegalovirus .
To avoid this we must:
– Wash your hands frequently especially after touching a diaper, or the saliva of a small child.
– Hands should be washed for at least thirty seconds and put special emphasis on nails.
– Try to always carry soap that does not need water, to disinfect yourself whenever you have made the mistake of performing a risky act.
– Do not give kisses on the mouth to children under six years of age.
– On the cheek if they are full of saliva either. You can always hug them or give them kisses on the head.
– Avoid cleaning the mucus or saliva of small children with direct contact, always use tissues and wash your hands afterwards.
– Do not share cutlery, water bottles or food with young children.
– In the event that you do not have a stable relationship or that your partner does not take care as much as you in not catching it, always use a condom in your sexual relations, and do not kiss him.
– Do not put the baby’s pacifier in the mouth.