Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Cytomegalovirus is a form of the herpes virus and may cause congenital defects if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy. This fact sheet provides information on the symptoms of CMV and ways to prevent CMV infection.

What is CMV?

CMV, or cytomegalovirus, is a common form of the herpes virus that affects individuals of all ages. Most infected individuals are asymptomatic. However, pregnant women who develop an active infection can pass the virus to the unborn baby, causing congenital CMV.

Congenital CMV has many serious health effects. Often, a child infected with congenital CMV will have more than one health effect. CMV is considered to be one of the leading causes of death and disability in children. Potential health effects include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Intellectual disability
  • Lack of coordination

How is CMV transmitted?

CMV is transmitted through bodily fluids and mucous membranes. Transmission is of special concern for women of childbearing age or those who work with young children. The virus is spread by contact with saliva, urine, blood, tears, or other bodily fluids. It is not spread by casual contact.

How can CMV be prevented?

Cases of CMV may be prevented by minimizing contact with mucous and bodily fluids. The following practices will help minimize contact with mucous membranes and will help prevent CMV:

  • Avoid contact with bodily fluids.
  • Don’t kiss a child on the lips; if you kiss a child, place the kiss on the cheek or forehead.
  • Don’t share glassware or eating utensils with others.
  • Don’t share food or drinks with a child.
  • Don’t share washcloths.
  • Don’t sleep together.
  • Don’t touch your face after handling contaminated items (such as diapers or used tissues) until after hands have been washed.
  • Wash for 15–20 seconds with soap and water after:
    -Handling children’s toys.
    -Wiping noses or mouths.
    -Feeding children.
    -Changing diapers.
  • Clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces.
  • Surfaces that children touch, play on or with, or otherwise come into contact with, or surfaces that may come into contact with bodily fluids should be cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Surfaces should be cleaned using disinfectants approved for meetinghouses. Bleach is not an approved disinfectant in LDS meetinghouses.

What is being done to abate CMV?

A public health initiative (Utah Public Health Code UCA 26-10-10), passed in 2013, requires that public education programs addressing the risks and prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV) be made available to pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and childcare facilities, hospitals, and religious organizations “offering children’s programs as part of worship services.”