Did you read the first part of this entry, Defining Cytomegalovirus?
CMV Infection Risks
The number of infected people increases with age. The literature shows that the general risk of contracting CMV is 24% for parents with young children, 8.5% for healthcare and daycare workers, and 2.3% for pregnant women. When our immune defences are lowered (stress or exhaustion), we are more exposed to infection.
Even if infection mostly occurs at a young age (children under three years of age), 60% to 90% of adults (men and women) have “anti-CMV” antibodies in their blood. This means that they’ve been infected at some point in their lives. Most of these people, if healthy, will have no symptoms of this benign infection. For the most part, the virus will always remain inactive, dormant or latent.
It’s important to highlight that before infecting someone, you have to have been in contact with the virus previously, infected after its incubation period. You can then transmit it to someone else.
During pregnancy, the mother’s fetal transmission risk starts during the first trimester. The transmission risk to the baby is 36.4% in the first trimester, 40.1% in the second trimester and 65% during the last trimester.
How can someone get infected by cytomegalovirus? Good question! Infection can happen many ways, normally with direct contact with organic or biological fluids or infected tissues.
- Saliva (cough, kissing)
- Respiratory secretions
- Genital secretions (cervical, sperm)
- Urine and stool
- In utero through the placenta
- During birth when in contact with vaginal mucosa
- During transplants with infected organs
- Breast milk
- Blood transfusions.
Since the virus can live on a lifeless surface up to seven days in rare cases, CMV can be transmitted via infected objects like toys, cutlery, or a bottle nipple. This is why repeated contact with young children increases the risks of infection. They’re not independent, always in our arms. We feed them, wash them, change their diapers or wipe them when they go to the bathroom, blow their nose, etc.
Continue reading with CMV Diagnoses and Symptoms.
Photo credit: Ion Chiosea
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