Clinical Notes: Human Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous herpesvirus that has infected approximately 80-90% of the human population, often by the age of 2 years. CMV is spread by direct contact or sexual contact. Infection is usually asymptomatic.

However there are some groups that are at increased risk for more serious manifestations of infection:

At-risk populationsSymptoms and signs
Babies born to women who have a primary CMV infection during pregnancy Usually asymptomatic at birth, but over next several years, can develop mental and developmental problems and vision or hearing problems
(Seronegative) pregnant women who work with infants and children Asymptomatic or symptoms similar to other adults
Immunocompromised individuals Fever, pneumonia, liver infection, anemia. Illnesses can last for weeks or months. HIV+ individuals also may develop CMV retinitis which may lead to blindness

Some adolescents and adults can possibly show the following mononucleosis-like symptoms during primary infection: high fever, childs, malaise, severe-tiredness, headache, and an enlarged spleen.

At the moment, there is no vaccine for CMV. More serious CMV infections can be treated with ganciclovir and also foscarnet (due to its higher toxicity, more as a second-line drug for ganciclovir-resistant mutants).

CMV Retinitis
Fig 68.9 from:
Medical Microbiology (4th Edition) -- Chapter 68: Herpesviruses
Other web pages with clinical information on cytomegalovirus infections.
+ Cytomegalovirus Facts (Q&A Format)
+ Cytomegalovirus
+ Infection Control Newletter: Cytomegalovirus
+ A personal account of CMV infection


Created: March 4, 1999
Last modified: March 4, 1999