Let’s Talk About Cytomegalovirus (CMV)


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of those sneaky viruses that can stick around in your body for life once you’re infected. The thing is, most folks who get it don’t even realise it because it generally keeps a low profile and doesn’t cause much trouble for healthy individuals.

When you test positive for CMV IgG, it simply means that at some point in your life, you’ve had a run-in with CMV. It doesn’t pinpoint exactly when you got infected, though.

In the U.S., CMV is quite the social butterfly, with about one in three kids catching it by age five. By the time we hit 40, over half of us have been CMV buddies at some point. Once this virus sets up shop in your body, it’s there for life and can pop back up from time to time. Plus, you could even catch a different strain of CMV down the road. The wild part? Most people with CMV never even know it because they don’t have any symptoms.

For those with weakened immune systems, CMV can be a bit more feisty, causing issues like eye, lung, liver, esophagus, stomach, or intestinal problems.

Now, let’s talk about the little ones. When a baby is born with CMV, it’s called congenital CMV, and it affects about one in every 200 babies. Sadly, around one in five of these babies may face health challenges down the road.

Babies born with CMV can encounter issues like brain, liver, spleen, lung, and growth complications. One of the most common long-term problems is hearing loss, which can pop up soon after birth or later in childhood.

CMV is part of the viral family that includes chickenpox, herpes simplex, and mononucleosis. It’s kind of like the family member who goes quiet for a while (dormant) and then decides to come back out to play (reactivate). If you’re healthy, CMV mostly hangs out quietly.

When CMV decides to be active, you can pass it along to others:

  • Through direct contact with saliva or urine, especially from babies and young children
  • Via sexual contact
  • Through breast milk to nursing infants
  • From transplanted organs or blood transfusions

Now, when it comes to donors, CMV testing is crucial. If a donor shows signs of a current infection (positive CMV IgM), they can’t participate in the program at that time. If a donor becomes infected later on, they’re deferred from donating, and any stored vials since their last negative test are discarded.

CMV testing involves looking at CMV IgG and IgM antibodies. A positive CMV IgM result means there’s a current or recent CMV infection. Meanwhile, a positive CMV IgG result with a negative IgM result suggests past exposure to CMV, which is a normal immune response.

So, when it comes to CMV, awareness and testing are key, especially in the world of fertility and donor conception treatments.







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