We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Cytomegalovirus FREE

Janet M. Torpy, MD, MPH, Writer; Alison E. Burke, MA, Illustrator; Richard M. Glass, MD, Editor
JAMA. 2010;303(14):1440. doi:10.1001/jama.303.14.1440.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus from the herpes and chickenpox virus family, is a common cause of infection and illness worldwide. CMV infection can be congenital (present at birth) or passed from an infected pregnant woman to her baby. Congenital CMV infection is a leading nongenetic cause of deafness in children. The April 14, 2010, issue of JAMA contains an article about testing for CMV infection in newborn infants.


  • Deafness

  • Mental disability, which may be severe

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Visual impairment

  • Seizure disorder

  • Neonatal (newborn) jaundice, hepatitis, and low platelet counts. These findings go away on their own in most infants.

  • Intrauterine growth retardation

  • Microcephaly (small head size)

Approximately 90% of babies with CMV infection will not show any signs of the infection. However, about 10% of these children develop hearing loss in early childhood. Newborns with symptoms are much more likely to develop long-lasting problems.


In adults and older children, CMV infection may be present without symptoms. Sometimes, a flu-like illness may occur, including fever, fatigue, or a rash. Individuals who are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system), such as persons who have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or patients who have had an organ transplant, a bone marrow transplant, or certain types of cancers, may become seriously ill if they are exposed to CMV. A type of severe eye infection, CMV retinitis, can cause blindness. CMV can also be responsible for pneumonia in persons with weak immune systems.


  • Good hygiene is the most important way to stop spread of CMV, just like with all viral illnesses. Careful and frequent hand washing is the key step to keeping yourself free of CMV, especially after diaper changes and contact with body fluids.

  • Pregnant women and persons with weak immune systems should pay close attention to hand washing and avoiding contact with others' body fluids.

  • CMV can be passed through blood, saliva, mucus, and urine. It can also be spread through sexual contact.

  • Donated blood is tested for the presence of CMV, along with other viruses such as HIV and the hepatitis viruses.

  • Antiviral medications are routinely used to treat immunocompromised adults with CMV infection. Antiviral medications may be prescribed to newborns who show signs of CMV infection at birth. Because these medications have serious side effects, their use is limited to those with confirmed infection and severe disease.



To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on blood transfusion was published in the October 6, 2004, issue; one on causes of visual impairment was published in the October 15, 2003, issue; one on premature infants was published in the June 3, 2009, issue; one on genital herpes was published in the June 27, 2001, issue; one on chickenpox was published in the August 17, 2005, issue; and one on shingles was published in the July 1, 2009, issue.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, March of Dimes, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 312/464-0776.




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Spanish Patient Pages
Supplemental Content

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles