Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – UPSC Prelims

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)?
  • Cytomegalovirus(CMV) is also known as Human Herpesvirus 5 (HHV-5). It is a common herpes virus that often causes natural infections in childhood and remains asymptomatic in patients with normal immunity.
  • Once infected, the virus is retained in the body for life. Most people don’t realise that they have been infected by CMV because it rarely causes problems in healthy people.
  • The symptoms usually surface only when carriers become immuno-compromised, such as those suffering from cancer, AIDS, or those who have recently had transplants.
  • Symptoms of CMV:
    • The symptoms of CMV range from fever and fatigue to severe symptoms involving the eyes, brain or other internal organs.
    • These symptoms include gastrointestinal bleeding (blood in stools), diarrhoea, swollen glands, mouth ulcers, inflamed liver, and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
  • Transmission:
    • CMV spreads between humans via contact with someone who has the disease. Transmission happens through sexual contact and bodily fluids such as urine, blood, saliva, tears, and faeces.
    • Expecting mothers who develop an active CMV infection during pregnancy can pass on the virus to their babies, which is known as congenital CMV. Children born with it may or may not show symptoms.
  • Treatment:
    • There is no specific cure for CMV, but there are medicines that can help treat the symptoms. However, medication can suppress the virus, it cannot remove it completely from the body as it stays lifelong in your system.
  • Covid-19 Connection:
    • The medicines used to treat COVID-19 such as steroids suppress the natural immunity of patients and reduce the lymphocyte count (6%-10% as against a normal of 20%-40%). This makes them susceptible to infections like CMV.
Scroll to Top