Although there’s a good deal of information about Congenital Cytomegalovirus infecting pregnant women or babies, not everyone realizes that this virus can affect people of any age, including residents of Maquoketa and elsewhere or those needing palliative care.
The reason for the strong focus on identifying and treating this virus at childbirth is to help them avoid difficulties right after they are born and also later in life.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice have made sure they know enough about the health condition so they can properly work with clients who may have had it much earlier in life. Clients also may have children, grandchildren or other family members or loved ones who are currently trying to learn about it due to a diagnosis, so it helps if we have this knowledge too or at least know what resources to visit and share to provide more information if someone needs more details.
Much of the information commonly available about CMV centers around infants and childbirth, but one can also learn what seniors may experience, either someone living with some of these symptoms all their life or someone who might be infected later in life, and what can be done about it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infection from CMV is rare but can still be contracted. Many people who have it may never be aware of this until/unless it changes its status.
About 1 in every 200 children is born with the infection, and 1 in 5 of these will have long-term health problems because of it.
Most of the children born with this infection never have short- or long-term health problems, but about 10 percent will have physical or developmental problems, which can include low birth weight, rash, seizures, jaundice, and rash.
Possible long-term problems can include vision loss, hearing loss, poor coordination, and weak spots. People with the condition may also have intellectual disabilities much or all of their lives.
New parents are encouraged to learn about the condition and the pros and cons of different treatment options, including valganciclovir or ganciclovir, which may help prevent development problems or hearing loss. But it also could have some serious effort for an infant. There are also some specialty vaccines in the works for only expectant mothers to make sure the child isn’t infected.
The virus can spread via similar pathways of other viruses, such as direct contact with body fluids like blood or saliva from someone who is actively infected or unprotected sexual contact.
Pregnant mothers can easily infect their children.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a variety of reasons why the virus can become active in someone, especially later in life, starting with pregnancy.
Another cause for the virus to become active is if someone’s immune system becomes so weak that viruses that are normally blocked may try to enter. High levels of weakness can come from serious but stable medical conditions like a recent organ transplant, stem cell donation or marrow transplant, or a diagnosis of HIV.
If the body is already at a low point, the activating of a virus could be dangerous, even deadly.
The Mayo Clinic said adults with active CMV infection may develop a variety of painful conditions such as vision loss due to an inflamed eye, nervous system problems, brain inflammation, and pneumonia. The digestive system could also be affected, including inflammation taking place on sensitive organs like the liver, esophagus, and colon.
In rare cases, adults with the active virus may develop mononucleosis, another condition that can be spread by contact and could also be disabling if you’re not familiar with it. It’s also something that is more common with teens.
Tips To Minimize CMV Exposure
One advantage of hearing suggestions to avoid contracting is that we as a culture are already familiar with the basics of how to reduce other viruses due to recent COVID precautions.
Many of the same preventative behaviors are similar to the ones that have been used to try to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19.
These can include:
- Regularly washing hands with soap. Or if soap isn’t available, try alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Either of these is generally able to reduce germs on the hands, or lower the risk of putting a contaminated finger into a mouth, nose, or eye and potentially infect others.
- Keep distant when around people you don’t know. You don’t have to be at least 6 feet away, but just far enough to avoid being touched or saliva or other droplets when they speak or shout reaching you.
- Clean surfaces. This should be done regularly with antibiotic or antiseptic wipes to avoid build-up of any type of potentially dangerous germs whether it’s COVID or other infections. Caregivers and home health aides who work with seniors can keep this in mind when helping a client with light cleaning.