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Stop the Spread of Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

photo of pregnant women The mission of the Utah Cytomegalovirus Public Education and Testing Program is to educate women of childbearing age and community stakeholders on the risks of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) during pregnancy; and to test eligible infants for the presence of congenital CMV that allows for early detection and intervention in an effort to reduce the effects of CMV.

H.B. 81 (2013 General Session) UCA 26-10-10, whose Chief Sponsor was Representative Ronda Rudd Menlove, went into effect on July 1, 2013. This law (Cytomegalovirus Public Education and Testing) directs the Utah Department of Health to create a public education program to inform pregnant women, and women who may become pregnant, about the occurrence of CMV, the transmission of CMV, the birth defects that CMV can cause, methods of diagnosis, and available preventative measures.

This law also directs medical practitioners to test infants who fail newborn hearing screening for congenital CMV and inform the parents about the possible birth defects that CMV can cause.

About CMV

Help Stop CMV LogoCMV infection during pregnancy can harm your baby.

Cytomegalovirus (sy toe MEG a low vy rus), or CMV, is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Most CMV infections are "silent", meaning the majority of people who are infected with CMV have no signs or symptoms, and there are no harmful effects. However, when CMV occurs during a woman’s pregnancy, the baby can become infected before birth.  CMV infection before birth is known as “congenital CMV”. When this happens, the virus gets transmitted to the unborn infant and can potentially damage the brain, eyes, and/or inner ears.

Every year, more than 40,000 women in the U.S. experience CMV infection during pregnancy.

  • 1 in 200 babies is born with congenital CMV in America
  • 1 in every 5 children born with CMV will suffer lifelong disabilities

Permanent health problems or disabilities due to congenital CMV include:

  • Hearing Loss
  • Vision Loss
  • Developmental Disability
  • Brain Damage
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Small head size
  • Lack of coordination
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Seizures

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I get CMV?

Cytomegalovirus is generally passed from infected people to others through direct contact with body fluids, such as urine or saliva. CMV can also be found in tears, blood, and semen.

Will I know I have CMV?

Most healthy children and adults infected with CMV don't feel ill so they don't know that they have been infected; others may have mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, fatigue or swollen glands.  The only way to know for sure that you have CMV is to have your medical provider test you for it.

If I have already had CMV, do I need to worry about getting it again?

CMV is a member of the herpes viruses so once you have been infected, it remains in your system, and can re-activate in the future. When someone catches CMV for the first time, it is called a primary infection. When someone who already has had the virus gets infected with another strain, or their current strain becomes active again, this is called a nonprimary or secondary infection.

  • 1-4 out of 100 women will experience a primary infection during pregnancy
  • 1 in 1000 women will experience a secondary infection during pregnancy

Although it is more likely that the fetus will be affected by a primary infection, a secondary infection may still cause harm to the baby.

Is there a shot I can get that will stop me from getting CMV?

There is currently no vaccine available to prevent CMV. Research is on-going for the development of a vaccine.

How can I help prevent CMV?

photo of woman kissing babyIf you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the best way to protect your baby from CMV is to protect yourself.

  1. When you kiss a young child, try to avoid contact with saliva. For example, you might kiss on the forehead rather than the lips.
  2. Try not to put things in your mouth that have just been in a child’s mouth. For example:
    • Cups
    • Forks or Spoons
    • Pacifiers
  3. Try not to share food, drinks, or a toothbrush with a child.
  4. Wash your hands after touching a child’s saliva or urine, especially after:
    • Wiping a child’s nose, mouth, or tears
    • Changing diapers
  5. Use soap and water or a disinfectant to clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces that may have a child's saliva or urine on them.
  6. Act as if everyone around you has a cold or a stomach bug and practice the same prevention strategies!

Am I at risk for getting CMV?

Pregnant women should avoid getting body fluids in their eyes, nose or mouth. One of the most common exposures is through contact with saliva or urine of young children who recently had the virus.

Research shows that women who work closely with small children in settings such as child care facilities or have other children in the home while pregnant may be at greater risk.

Women can also be exposed to the CMV virus through body fluids during sexual activity. Those who participate in high-risk behaviors are at greater risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the risk of getting CMV through casual contact, such as hugging, is very small.

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