What You Should Know About CMV
What is CMV?
Cytomegalovirus, or CMV is a member of the herpes virus family which includes cold sores, chickenpox, and infectious mononucleosis (mono). It is a common virus known to infect people from all populations and ages. In developed countries 50%-85% of adults have been infected by age 40. Once a person becomes infected and passes the initial illness, the virus lies dormant in their body for the rest of their life with little risk of recurrent infection or reactivation. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for CMV.
In healthy adults and children, symptoms of active CMV infection are usually mild and could be mistaken for a cold or flu. The affected person should fully recover in a week or two with no lasting effects. During an active infection, the virus is shed in bodily fluids, which means it can be contacted through exposure to urine, saliva, blood, tears, breast milk, and semen.
Couples in which one partner contract the virus will typically pass it on to the other through kissing and intimate contact which results in both partners sharing the same CMV status and mutual, natural immunity. However, it is impossible to be certain of your CMV status without a blood test.
Why is this important regarding pregnancy and sperm donor choice?
If the first exposure to CMV is during pregnancy, there is a 30%-40% chance for the fetus to be infected as well. The majority of children who experience a CMV infection before birth are health and develop normally. However, 10%-15% may have complications such as hearing loss, neurological abnormalities, or decreased motor skills. Note that infants who are infected with CMV after birth rarely experience any long-term complications.
To reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, any person preparing to carry a pregnancy who is planning on using donor sperm should have their CMV status tested.
What type of CMV testing do sperm donors go through?
Donors are given an initial CMV screening to determine their CMV status. All donors with an active CMV infection are deferred from donating until they are IgM negative. IgM negative indicates they are no longer actively infected. Any potentially affected vials would be discarded. Donors are then tested every 3-6 months for their CMV status, within the FDA required quarantine period.
For more in-depth information on CMV, please consult with your healthcare provider and refer to the CDC for more information