What is Cytomegalovirus?

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What is Cytomegalovirus?
The word Cytomegalovirus comes from the Greek word ‘cyto’ which means cell while the Greek word ‘megalo’ means large. Cytomegalovirus is known to be from the viral group Herpesviridae or herpesviruses. Typically abbreviated as CMV, this virus is mostly found in mammal species. However the type of CMV that is found in humans is called the HCMV which stands for Human Cytomegalovirus or the human herpesvirus-5. Although mammals acquire CMV while humans acquire HCMV, Cytomegalovirus, in general, are usually related with the salivary glands in humans and in other mammals as well.

Herpesviruses in humans possess the ability to remain potentially hidden and dormant within the human body over long a period of time. This is why people who have this find out about it when the infection has already affected the whole body. CMV infection aggravates until it develops to AIDS and eventually causes death. This virus is present all over the world. The virus is more widespread in developing countries. It is also common in societies with lower economic status. Cytomegalovirus can also be transmitted to a developing fetus which causes birth defects and deaths upon birth.

Not only mammals and humans but also rodents get infected by this virus. However, rodents are classified to have a distinct type of Cytomegalovirus, called muromegalovirus.

How do humans get infected?
Humans get infected with Cytomegalovirus through transplants and blood transfusion. An individual gets infected when the blood or the organs that were used during the operation were initially infected by HIV. Common transplants include kidney and bone marrow transplants. Aside from these clinical procedures, people who receive steroids and other immunosuppressant medications are also in high risk of getting infected with this virus. Cytomegalovirus is also transmitted through sexual contact. Moreover, pregnant women with CMV will definitely infect the fetus and cause birth defects, abnormalities and even death.

What are the other diseases caused by Cytomegalovirus?

Congenital cytomegalovirus disease
The immunity of the mother to CMV will determine the risk of infection in the unborn child. Congenital cytomegalovirus disease is from mothers who are infected with CMV. Children who are born with the disease develop hearing loss.

Cytomegalovirus pneumonia
This disease shows symptoms of the common pulmonary disease that comes with an infected bronchoalveolar fluid. People who have gone through lung transplant operations are easily infected with this disease.

Cytomegalovirus hepatitis
People who initially have CMV infection and mononucleosis usually develop Cytomegalovirus hepatitis. This causes jaundice, inflammation, an increase in the level of hepatocellular enzymes and can even cause death.

How can CMV be prevented?
To prevent getting infected with CMV, it is advised to wash hands all the time. It is also best to avoid using the same drinking glasses and eating utensils. Health care workers, child care providers are advised to be tested on a regular basis especially with women who are trying to get pregnant. It is also best to live a healthy and a clean life free from drugs and other substances that can greatly affect the immune system.

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