Is It Mono?

This Looks Just Like Mono!

There is another member of the herpes virus family that looks just like mononucleosis - including the symptoms which indicate its presence in the body.

Between 50 and 85 percent of people in the US will have had an infection from this virus by the time they are in their mid-40s. The name of the virus is cytomegalovirus or CMV.

CMB, as with the Epstein-Barr virus, causes symptoms of lethargy, fever, weakness, sore throat, and headache and muscle soreness.

Little children are typically infected with this virus early in life and the infections are rarely serious in otherwise healthy children. Teens and adults who are infected with CMV have symptoms very similar to mononucleosis, and they are gone in a similar time period - about one to two months.

Cytomegalovirus or CMV

Cytomegalovirus presents a problem for unborn babies whose mothers are infected with CMV during their pregnancy and children or adults who have compromised immune systems - such as those weakened by disease, drug treatment, organ transplants or HIV.

Also, as with EBV, CMV remains in the body of a person who has been infected with it, but unlike EBV, it can reactivate. Again, it is more likely to reactivate and cause serious illness in people who have weakened immune systems.

How CMV Affects Babies

The effects of CMV vary, depending upon the age and the state of health of the infected person, and also, how the infection happened. Infants who are infected before birth often show no signs of infection.

However, in some cases they can develop problems with hearing, vision, their nervous system and development. Sometimes symptoms of CMV can include premature birth, low birth weight, jaundice, enlarged liver and spleen, small head, seizures, rash and feeding problems. These infants can also be at high risk for developmental, hearing, vision and neurological difficulties.

CMV and Teens - Just Like Mono

For teens and adults, the symptoms are very similar to mono and are generally mild, lasting only two or three weeks. Those who have received organ transplants or have compromised immune systems can experience serious problems if they contract CMV.

In such people, CMV infection could affect lungs, the nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract and can even cause blindness.

Those At Risk

About one percent of infants are infected with CMV before birth, contracting the disease from their mother. The disease can be transmitted by close contact, spread through saliva, breast milk, vaginal fluids, semen, urine, and stool. It can also be present in blood products and donated organs. With kids, it is most frequently passed around in daycare or preschool settings, carried on contaminated toys.

There is no specific treatment for CMV infection for otherwise healthy people, but if a person is at risk, intravenous antiviral medications or oral antiviral medications may be administered.


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