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Infectious Diseases

CMV Questions?

11/16/2001

Question:

I have donated blood for years and was told I do not carry a certain CMV virus and that my blood is valuable. I researched what CMV was and found that it can be transmitted through sexual contact, saliva and various other ways..My husband, who is also a valuable blood donor becuase of his universal blood type and myself are wondering if it is able to transmit like in the above ways, how is it I have not gotten the virus from him? Does this mean I have an antibody also? or does he perhaps not have the CMV, but if so, how come they don`t indicate it when he donates?

Answer:

CMV or cytomegalovirus is a common virus in the world. It generally infects people as children. By adulthood, 50% or more of adults show antibodies to CMV. It usually causes people to feel sick like mononucleosis. A little fever, chills, sore throat, swollen glands and achiness. Many times it can appear like a `cold` in children. The most common way it is transmitted is through contact with saliva or other bodily fluids. Transmission via sexual contact is not the most common way it is transmitted. Children commonly pass it between each other. Once a person is infected they remain so for life. However, this does not mean that they are constantly producing CMV in their bodily fluids. In fact, most of the time people have antibodies but no viral replication. This means that they are not likely to pass CMV on to another person. So you test positive for antibodies but a culture of the blood, urine or saliva would likely be negative. This may explain why, if your husband is positive, that you have not gotten CMV from him. I cannot explain why the blood center would not tell your husband his CMV status. If you ask, I`m sure they will tell you. My best advice is to ask the blood center to send the results of yours and your husband`s CMV tests to your doctor who can go over the results with you.

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Response by:

Carl   Fichtenbaum, MD Carl Fichtenbaum, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati