Case Study

Preventing Congenital CMV Infection

CMV is a common herpes virus that can cause a “silent” infection with no visible symptoms, although some people may have fatigue, fever, and other symptoms similar to mononucleosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CMV is the leading cause of congenital viral infection in the United States. About 30–50 percent of women of childbearing age are susceptible to CMV infection, but healthy pregnant women likely won't become ill. However, if their virus is transmitted to a developing fetus, the baby will be infected with congenital CMV.

Most babies with congenital CMV infection do not have complications. However, about 1 in 5 will have hearing loss or other permanent disabilities, such as developmental disabilities. Every year, more than 5,000 U. S. children are diagnosed with permanent disabilities caused by congenital CMV, including hearing and/or vision loss; developmental disabilities; seizures; and liver, spleen, or lung conditions, the CDC reports.

Jaida and other pregnant women can contract CMV through children's saliva and urine or through sexual activity.

portrait of a young woman
Patient
Jaida
Sex
Female
Age
20 years

As Jaida's primary care provider, how can you best help Jaida protect her unborn baby?

Recommend that Jaida immediately find another job.

Encourage Jaida to be vigilant about hygiene in the child-care center, avoid sharing food or drinks with young children, and avoid contact with a young child’s saliva or urine.

Order an ultrasound to check the fetus for genetic problems.

Order a blood test to determine whether Jaida is positive for CMV. If she is, refer her to an obstetrician/gynecologist who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.

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Texas Health Steps’ award-winning online program offers FREE CE courses for primary care providers and other health professionals. These courses offer updated clinical, regulatory, and best practice guidelines for a range of preventive health, oral health, mental health, and case management topics.