How does CMV transmission occur?

Pregnant women in particular and women with a desire to have a child should be informed about the modes of CMV transmission. In case of a CMV infection, it will help them to minimize the risk of any potential health problem for their unborn children.

The modes of CMV transmission are manifold because infected individuals excrete the cytomegalovirus with their body fluids such as saliva, tears, breast milk, urine, sperm or vaginal secretion. CMV can be passed from person to person through close, intimate contact. Other sources of CMV infection are blood transfusions and the exposure to infected blood products or transplanted organs.

A pregnant woman or a breastfeeding mother can also pass the virus on to her unborn/newborn child without knowing it. Breastfeeding is the most common mode of CMV transmission. For healthy mature babies, an infection with the cytomegalovirus through breast milk does not pose any danger. Very small and premature infants, however, are at risk of developing serious diseases.

After a CMV infection the virus remains in the person's body for life. Even after the infection ceases, it can still be excreted with saliva and urine for weeks. Especially children that have been infected during pregnancy excrete the virus for years. Therefore, they also represent a source of infection for playmates and teachers which should not be underestimated.

image: breastfeeding