Cytomegalic inclusion disease

The Cytomegalic inclusion disease is also called “Cytomegalovirus disease” or “Inclusion body disease”. It is caused by infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common virus that can affect almost anybody. But most people don't even know they have this illness because it rarely causes symptoms. For most of the people the infection is not a problem except for two groups: newborn babies and people with weak immune systems. Although there is no cure for the Cytomegalic inclusion disease, the affected patients can be treated by antiviral drugs.

Symptoms of Cytomegalic inclusion disease

Symptoms of Cytomegalic inclusion disease are fever, enlargement of the liver and spleen, thrombocytopenia, jaundice, and purpura. Little children that are infected by CMV also often suffer from developmental disabilities, hearing and vision loss, petechiae (skin rash resulting from bleeding in the skin), pneumonia and damage of the central nervous system (brain abnormalities, small head size, etc.). Quite a few patients with a weak immune system may also have more severe forms of infection that include the nervous system. However, most people who get the disease as children or adults don’t show any signs of the illness or have only mild symptoms such as fatigue, fever, or tender lymph nodes.

Causes and origin of Cytomegalic inclusion disease

CMV is caused by infection with the cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common virus that can affect almost anybody. It is mostly transmitted when infected body fluids (e.g. saliva, breast milk, blood, urine, semen) come in contact with the mucous membranes of uninfected people, or through transplantation of infected organs. Unborn babies often acquire CMV in the womb or when passing through the birth canal of an infected mother.

Consequences of Cytomegalic inclusion disease

The disease is the most common cause of congenital abnormalities, e.g. in the USA. It can also cause pneumonia and other illnesses in patients with impaired immune systems (people with HIV/AIDS or recipients of organ transplants e.g.). For the fetus or newborn infant, Cytomegalic inclusion disease is especially dangerous, and can be even lethal. It may cause serious systemic problems like bleeding, anemia, pneumonia, brain or liver damage.

Prevention and therapy of Cytomegalic inclusion disease
Letermovir cytomegalovirus (CMV) drug molecule
Letermovir cytomegalovirus (CMV) drug molecule

There is no cure for Cytomegalic inclusion disease. Doctors recommend good hygiene and especially washing the hands thoroughly to prevent transmission of the illness.
Healthy people who get infected by CMV normally don’t need a special therapy; the disease heals without treatment. But the virus stays in the body. That means the infection can break out again when the immune system is weakened.

However, people with a weak immune system need a special therapy with anti-viral drugs. Babies who are affected by CMV benefit when they get antiviral medicine from their first month of their lives. But since the medication has side effects, the infants should be checked frequently by their doctors. Pregnant women are treated with antibodies against CMV.

In case of a slight development of Cytomegalic inclusion disease, a treatment of the symptoms is often sufficient. But when the patient also gets a bacterial infection, he/she needs antibiotics to prevent an aggravation of the Cytomegalic inclusion disease.