One of the viral infections that can be transmitted to a fetus during pregnancy – cytomegalovirus

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One of the viral infections that can be transmitted to a fetus during the course of pregnancy is cytomegalovirus (CMV). It is an uncommon and harmless condition that rarely leads to sickness. The virus remains in the body for a life time once it gets in contact with the person. It can be found in the urine, saliva, blood, tears, semen and breast milk.

 

Symptoms
Here are some of the common symptoms of the CMV infection:
Inflammation of the glands
Muscular ache
Fever
Loss of appetite
Fatique
Stiffness of joints

 

Mode of transmission
It main means of transmission is intimate contact with a person excreting the virus in any of the bodily fluids. Though, it is not a highly contagious infection, however, evidences have shown that is prevalent in households and among young children in schools.

Diagnosis
A blood sample to test for the CMV antibody. Culturing the sample offers the best diagnosis but it an expensive process which most people would not be able to afford.
Amniocentesis can be used to detect if the fetus has the infection during pregnancy. Symptoms that are suggestive of possible infection are low amniotic fluid levels, intrauterine growth restriction and enlarged tissues in the brain. The test needs to be carried out after delivery to confirm whether the baby has the infection or not.

 

Treatment
At the moment, no specific cure has been found for this infection. However, the role of vaccine in this regard cannot be underestimated. Hyperimmune globulin given to the pregnant mother may prevent the fetus from contacting the infection.
Certain antiviral medications like Ganciclovir and Valganciclovir may be used to treat some aspects of congenital CMV which are capable of enhancing brain development and prevent loss of hearing.

 

Prevention
Good personal hygiene is important in preventing the infection. Hand washing with water and soap as well as wearing of gloves when changing diapers should be encouraged. Also, desist from sharing food, eating utensils and drinking utensils with anyone.



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