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Cytomegalovirus infection is very common. Most healthy people, especially children, who have this infection will have few, if any, symptoms. It can cause severe disease in persons with weakened immune systems. Cytomegalovirus infection spreads from person to person by direct contact. 

Incubation period
Not determined unless:
  • Illness following a transplant or transfusion with infected blood begins within 3 - 8 weeks.
  • Infection acquired during birth is first demonstrable 3 - 12 weeks after delivery.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Mild hepatitis
  • Rarely: Anaemia, Thrombocytopenia, Pneumonitis, Meningoencephalitis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.


Immunosuppressed persons (ex. HIV/AIDS) are at risk of serious illness due to cytomegalovirus infection. In such persons, disease is usually due to reactivation of previous infection. In such patients, manifestations include sight-threatening retinitis, pneumonitis, gastrointestinal ulceration and inflammation, and neurological disease, particularly affecting the brain and spinal cord.
Blood tests can help diagnose infection or determine if a person has been exposed in the past.
No specific treatment. Anti-virus medicine can be helpful in treating CMV retinitis in persons with HIV infection.
Control and Prevention


  • Wash hands after handling nappies or exposure to the secretions of young children.
  • Educate persons working in hospitals, childcare centres and centres for the disabled to adhere to infection control precautions and to regard all body fluids as potentially infectious.
  • Advise women of childbearing age of the risk which cytomegalovirus infection may pose.
  • Avoid transfusing neonates of sero-negative mothers with blood from cytomegalovirus sero-positive donors.
  • Avoid transplanting organ tissues from cytomegalovirus sero-positive donors to sero-negative recipients. If unavoidable, hyperimmune IG or prophylactic administration of antiviral may be helpful.