The Cytomegaly, also Inclusion body disease called, is transmitted by the human cytomegaly virus, also called HZMV. This virus, belonging to the herpes virus family, remains in the human body for life after an infection.
An infection with Cytomegaly usually goes unnoticed by the person affected, as the symptoms of the disease are of a diverse nature and can also be triggered by a wide variety of other diseases.
In fact, it is estimated that 50 to 60 percent of healthy Europeans are carriers of the disease. In developing countries this number is even higher.
Infection with cytomegaly is only problematic in people with a weakened immune system or in newborns. The virus can be transmitted from mother to child in the womb. The majority of infected newborns are born healthy, but serious illnesses can also develop.
Due to the high number of unreported cases of cytomegaly, the exact incubation period is not known. It is estimated to last anywhere from one to three months.
Cytomegaly is triggered by the cytomegalovirus and belongs to the herpes viruses. Carriers of the virus can transmit it to a wide variety of animal species and humans. This includes: sexual intercourse, urine, saliva, blood and its components.
However, cytomegaly can also be transmitted via blood transfusions and organ transplants. Since patients who need a transfusion or transplant are usually seriously ill, infection with cytomegaly can have serious consequences for them.
It is also possible that an existing infection with cytomegaly only leads to more noticeable symptoms after an organ transplant. In such cases, the transplanted organ is often rejected.
As a rule, the cytomegaly runs without symptoms. However, around ten percent of all those affected suffer from slightly swollen lymph nodes and weeks of fatigue. However, infection during pregnancy can have serious effects on the fetus. In some cases, this leads to malformations in the newborn.
Even so, most infected babies are born healthy. In people with a severely weakened immune system (AIDS, cancer, organ transplantation), severe disease courses are often observed, which can lead to life-threatening complications. These people often have severe pneumonia, hepatitis, or inflammation of the retina of the eyes (retinitis). There is also a fever, muscle pain and bleeding disorders.
In addition, the number of white blood cells in the blood is reduced. In some cases, life-threatening inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) also develops. Inflammation of the retina (retinitis) spreads to both eyes without treatment. Visual disturbances occur, which are manifested by blurred vision and reduced visual acuity. There is no eye pain.
But if the retinitis is not treated, there is a risk of complete blindness. Examinations often reveal bleeding from the fundus. Symptoms can also occur in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition to stomach pain and diarrhea, it also leads to heartburn, difficulty swallowing and loss of appetite. Pneumonia caused by cytomegalovirus is manifested by a dry cough. At the same time, fluid accumulates in the lung tissue. Pneumonia is often fatal.
The course of a Cytomegaly infection can be very different. Healthy adults usually have no symptoms. Few develop swollen lymph nodes when they have cytomegaly. It is also possible that the person concerned feels exhausted and tired for weeks.
However, in immunocompromised people, such as an organ transplant or AIDS, cytomegaly can lead to severe symptoms and discomfort. This could be hepatitis, fever, bleeding disorders, pneumonia, or some types of eye infections.
Furthermore, the person concerned has significantly fewer leukocytes (white blood cells) in the blood. In particularly severe cases, cytomegaly can spread to the brain in such people and cause encephalitis there, also called encephalitis.
The eye infections caused by cytomegaly often result in decreased visual acuity and blurred vision, caused by inflammation of the retina.
It is also possible that cytomegaly causes inflammation of the stomach lining or esophagus. In such a case, the cytomegaly infection manifests itself as abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing or a burning sensation behind the breastbone.
In newborns, cytomegaly can cause malformations, anemia, visual impairment, disability, deafness [or pneumonia. Cytomegaly can also trigger premature birth.
The diagnosis of cytomegaly is not that easy due to the wide range of symptoms, as many other viral or bacterial diseases can also cause similar symptoms.
One possible type of diagnosis for a cytomegaly infection is exclusion diagnosis, which excludes all other diseases. However, blood or tissue tests may help to confirm suspicions of a cytomegaly infection. It is even partially possible to detect the cytomegalovirus in urine, tissue or blood.
Inclusion body disease can lead to a number of different ailments and complications. With this disease, those affected feel very tired and exhausted and therefore no longer actively participate in everyday life. The lymph nodes are also usually swollen and those affected suffer from fever or various types of inflammation.
This can also lead to inflammation in the lungs or eyes. Inclusion body disease can also result in reduced visual acuity and have a very negative effect on everyday life and the quality of life of the person concerned. Most patients suffer from inflammation of the gastric mucosa without treatment and thus from severe abdominal pain.
The disease can also lead to swallowing difficulties and thus to difficulties in taking food and liquids. In the worst case, the illness can lead to severe disabilities or deafness. Premature birth can also cause the child to die.
Inclusion body disease is usually treated without complications with the help of medication. Most complaints are limited by this. If the disease is detected early, the disease will progress positively in most cases.
If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, a doctor should always check for a diffuse feeling of illness or impairment of general well-being. The risk group includes people with a weakened immune system, with previous illnesses or pregnant women. Therefore, these people in particular should seek collaboration with a doctor if they show a general feeling of illness or an internal weakness. If you are tired, swollen lymph nodes or changes in the skin texture, action is required. Medical examinations should be initiated if swallowing problems, loss of appetite, diarrhea or abdominal pain occur. This is the only way to clarify the cause and make a diagnosis.
If you have a fever, irregular heartbeat, muscle pain or flu-like symptoms, it is advisable to work with a doctor. If there is a sudden deterioration in health with an existing illness, the changes should be discussed with the attending physician as soon as possible. Inflammations or restrictions in general functional activity must also be examined and treated by a doctor immediately. Without medical care, irreversible damage can occur. To prevent complications, it is therefore advisable to seek the support of a doctor as soon as the first health impairments appear. In addition, pregnant women should take part in all check-ups offered.
In people with an intact immune system who have Cytomegaly usually no special therapy is possible. The disease heals on its own, but the virus remains in the body. The cytomegaly infection can therefore break out again at any time as soon as the immune system is weakened again.
However, special therapy must be given to patients who have an immune deficiency. Antivirals such as foscarnet, valganciclovir or ganciclovir are used for this therapy.
If cytomegaly is diagnosed in pregnant women, they are given antibodies to the cytomegaly virus.
Treatment of the symptoms may be sufficient in the case of a disease of cytomegaly in milder courses. An additional bacterial infection should, however, be treated immediately with antibiotics so that the cytomegaly disease does not worsen.
A preventive vaccination against Cytomegaly does not yet exist, but is currently being developed. In organ transplants, the administration of certain antivirals can prevent infection with cytomegaly.
Pregnant women can try to take special precautionary measures to prevent cytomegaly infection. This can include hygiene measures such as frequent hand washing as well as avoiding contagious situations or groups of people. Pregnant teachers should refrain from diapering other children during pregnancy.
In order to protect yourself against infection with the cytomegalovirus in everyday life, it makes sense to comply with the normal hygiene guidelines. Careful hand washing with soap and warm water is important and effective, as detergents and soap can inactivate the cytomegalovirus.
When the immune system is weakened, there is an increased risk of CMV. It is advisable to strengthen one's immune system through a healthy lifestyle by paying attention to a healthy diet, sufficient vitamin intake and enough exercise in everyday life. There is currently no vaccine against the virus, so vaccination prophylaxis is not possible.
In some cases, if you have cytomegaly, it can be treated with antivirals. These drugs prevent the virus from multiplying. Most often, treatment is not required in healthy people and treating symptoms is sufficient. Antivirals and other special drugs are used in particular in immunocompromised people or during pregnancy.
Much more important, however, is the prevention of these risk groups and prophylaxis in women who want to have children who have not yet had contact with the cytomegalovirus. If possible, close contact with small children should be avoided in everyday life and the sharing of items such as dishes, cutlery, towels or bed linen. Here, too, particular attention must be paid to carefully carried out hand hygiene and hygiene in general.